What kind of footballing world do we live in when so many football fans are keen to slag off such a talented player? It’s nuts. I don’t care which club or country he plays for, we should be celebrating the skills of Lionel Messi.
Do you think he is unaware that he didn’t score in the final? Do you think he is unaware of the constant and ludicrous comparison with Maradona? Do you believe he was not embarrassed to be named player of the tournament? He clearly was embarrassed and as baffled as the rest of us by that announcement.
Messi didn’t want to be handed that meaningless trophy. He wanted to be lifting the World Cup.
But no one player can win a World Cup. Pele didn’t. Maradona didn’t. They were brilliant players in a team in which each individual performed to a high level.
Did Argentina do that at this tournament, including on Sunday? No they did not. Don’t take my word for it. This is what Jose Mourinho had to say about the abuse aimed at Messi.
Mourinho said: “Messi was trying to create something out of nothing for his team. His pass to Di Maria was brilliant. If Messi wanted to be the phenomenon we all know he is, he’d have just played up front, close to Higuain, waiting for a chance.
“Messi played in zones that are not his. He sacrificed himself for his team. He wanted to win the tournament, not top goalscorer or mvp. He wanted to make history.
“All my respect goes to Messi because he played for his team and this can’t be said of all players at the World Cup.”
Too true Jose.
And the seasoned watcher of football, journalist Ian Ridley, thought the same as I.
He said via his Twitter feed: “Sorry, not having this kicking of Messi when he is down. He is a great no matter what. Not been watching the last 8 years?”
Lionel Messi expressed the level of his own disappointment in the hours after the game.
He said: “I’m very hurt at not being able to bring the Cup to Argentina. I am very angry at the way we lost, so close to the penalties, especially as we had the best chances. I do not care about the Golden Ball. I am just upset by the wasted chances.
“We had the best chances, with [Gonzalo] Higuain, mine and [Rodrigo] Palacios. We knew we could not dominate the game but we knew what we wanted to do.
“Right now I do not care nothing, not about my prize, nothing. I just wanted to lift the cup and bring it to Argentina. The pain is very great.”The Twittersphere is awash with the fact that, in the tournament overall, German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer completed two more successful passes than Lionel Messi. So bloody what!
What was more noticeable is that Messi went missing in extra time against Germany. That disappointed me.
Much has been made that, as captain, he did not give the rousing speech prior to extra time beginning. That was left to Argentina’s best player at the tournament, Javier Mascherano. But some players are more adept than others at giving verbal encouragement to colleagues. Messi doesn’t strike me as that sort of person. Perhaps, therefore, he should not be captain. He could likely do without that added responsibility.
Lionel Messi did not have one of his better seasons at Barcelona. The fans there thought he was saving himself for the World Cup. And make no mistake about it, Argentina would not have got close to appearing in the final without his earlier efforts.
But they rely on him too much. They did so in qualification. They did so in Brazil. “Here’s the ball, go weave your magic.” And he did so, often. That he did not make the difference in the final was disappointing. However, there are nine other outfield players in the Argentina team.
Messi is not helped by the spectre that is Maradona – a drug fuelled, gun totting, cheating wreck of a man who is so idolised by Argentina fans. The world watched on Sunday hoping that Messi would prove himself to be the equal of Maradona. That was unrealistic. Maradona was, albeit for a relatively brief period of time, special (though not for me as special as for some people).
Lionel Messi is a great player. He also happens to be a much better ambassador for the sport than Maradona could ever be.
I’d have been happy to lose my bet on Germany to win the World Cup had Lionel Messi been able to win the World Cup alone, doing handstands. But I never expected him to do so. Not because he isn’t one of the greatest players of my lifetime. He is. Sunday didn’t change that for me. Not a bit of it.
I’m not big on feeling sorry for multi millionaire footballers. Those that pay their taxes or those who do not. But I did feel a tad sorry for Lionel Messi on Sunday night. Football and family is all that matters to the man.
Some of his playing colleagues let the side down. Too many Argentinian eggs were placed in the Messi basket. That they were dropped and smashed on the floor of the Maracaña in Brazil was not his fault alone. Germany had something to do with that.
Listen up. Especially the young among you who seem to think great footballers are like buses and come along often. They don’t.
That we have Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in our midst right now is something to celebrate. Neither could win a World Cup for their country on their own.
Nor should anyone have expected them to.