The admirers of Messi would be able to recall everything he did on Saturday night without the need for high-definition camera images. He has scored the same goal against Australia more than 100 times over his career. Ball was placed onto his left side from the box. Messi’s first touch is almost always beautiful. He then lashes one more shot towards the bottom corner at the far end. This is how many times we have seen it! We can only imagine how many times we’d see it again. He is not a repetitive person, but it does not make him dull. Each replay reveals a hidden aspect of his genius and charm.
Although there were many better goals in this tournament, the assists and first touches were better, runs and passes were quicker, and no one will remember them as well as Argentina’s No 10. His aura is so strong that there’s only one protagonist in any Argentina game. Messi. Each Argentina game has a single narrative arc. Messi. This World Cup has perhaps one theme. Messi. This World Cup is a collection of interconnected Messi events.
The tournament’s dominant storyline has been the rise of mid-rung teams. This included Messi. It began with Messi’s Argentina being upset by Saudi Arabia.
Every time he takes the field in Qatar, the stadium transforms into a sea full of Messi jerseys. To witness the most significant win in Saudi Arabian football history, many Saudi Arabians wore his jersey. Many of them wept for Messi as he walked down the tunnel. They shared in Messi’s sorrows, and his joy. Messi is the only footballer who can set the mood for a match as well as any other, as though he has an unrestricted access to their emotions.
It forces several questions. Is there any other athlete or footballer who has been so generous with their love? Is it possible that the entire world has prayed for any player to win the World Cup? Is it possible to shed so many tears for one player? Is there a player who brings so much joy to the table?
Other great players are involved in the World Cup. For example, Cristiano Ronaldo; Neymar; Kylian Mbappe also. With all the fanfare and aura, Messi is able to excite a crowd as well as anyone else.
He is an adolescent of times. When television was mainstream and you could stream any game on your phone, you can watch from any league anywhere in the world, and you have access to more global football than ever. Pele, Maradona, Cruyff and Garrincha were not available to the masses. The reach of football was much smaller and less global than it used to be. It is not Messi’s fault. It is not the normal player-fan connection that is at work.
This is not because Messi announced that this would his last World Cup. It is not because Messi, the greatest player in the world, should be given the perfect farewell gift. They love him.
This could be his greatest legacy when he retires from his career. There was more to him than the goals, trophies and World Cup. We fell in love with him. It doesn’t change despite any alterations; it unites a world that is drifting in a sea of differences. Messi is a football unifier, similar to FIFA’s football world. His universal language connects people and bonds them, making them friends for life.