Social media went berserk when Lionel Messi was awarded the Golden Ball winner of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil over some others. Millions took to Twitter and Facebook to express the good many reasons why Messi’s consolation prize was undeserved; some went as far as stating it was a marketing ploy by Adidas, who signed the footballer as their brand ambassador. All the while, Messi was a demigod. Minutes after Messi had lost what was touted as “the most important game of his lifetime”, the 27-year-old received an honour only to be faded away into obscurity!
How ironical it is that the player who created the maximum ‘buzz’ during the World Cup 2014 didn’t even merit an award according to those who flooded social media websites outraged and that includes his one-time coach and Mentor Diego Maradona who endured the 1986 final but had forgotten his subsequent failures and moreover the shambolic events and drug controversies that followed. (I apologize to Maradona fans and him as I am one amongst them and a crazy one, but I need to be objective here) and let’s also face the truth: The Germans were far superior as a team and they deserved the win! And so, why blame Messi?
An article that came up in Washington Post made an interesting observation: “Irrespective of the records Messi breaks and sets, or the trophies he wins at the club level, Messi will never eclipse the legacy that his former coach Maradona or Pele created. He will forever live in their shadows… It’s not that Messi hasn’t already done so, or is incapable of exceeding the illustrious greats of the past; it’s the fact that we won’t allow it…”
Of course, this reaction of the mob against Messi is not quite surprising in an age where we live to analyze and criticize… that’s what we’re good at after all. We set insurmountable goals for some, and ridicule them when they fail to deliver.
Unfortunately, people must have forgotten that The World Cup winners of the past and the present (consider Germany) thrived due to a collective effort opposed to just a one-man brilliance. But that was not the case with Messi. One cannot say, Argentina had players who were fit enough, and who actually showed an outstanding performance in the game. Even top performers like Angel Di Maria and Sergio Aguero could not match up to the level they should have.
“Messi’s greatness is undisputed, even preternatural,” points out sports journalist Terry William. Playing for Spain’s Barcelona, he scored 91 goals in 69 games in 2012. FIFA has named Messi the best player in the world in four of the last five years. His gifts combine speed and intuition, doggedness and finesse. Put simply: he scores. All the time, believes William.
While some in Argentina now voice Messi was never Argentine enough as he left the country long ago and always played for Spain, Messi, however, could never shake his nationality. A dual citizen, he could have played for Spain in the World Cup. But he didn’t. He chose Argentina. “My style of playing is Argentine, not Spanish,” he once said in an interview.
At the end of the World Cup final, as I looked at the incredibly distraught Messi, holding the Golden Ball, an award which meant “absolutely nothing” to him, I felt SAD… well that’s the only word I can think of right now. He didn’t smile. He didn’t look at anyone. He didn’t break down like some of his team-mates. He didn’t speak a word… just erected a silent wall around himself….this moment no one knows better than Messi. Our only sorrow remains, while the best team in this World Cup got its due, the best player did not!
Yes, Messi missed his chance to win this World Cup! He missed a goal. But his statistics after the final were still among the best in the World Cup: 7 matches, 573 minutes, 4 goals, 1 assist, 23 chances created, 46 dribbles completed (Source: New York Times).
And still those who thought the genius did not deserve the Golden Ball (the best player of the World Cup award) should wake up, stop this Mess… He’s no God, he never was, but for once, pay respect to the hero and stop this nonsense! As a football critic from Bengal rightly points out, “Cherish Messi while you can, because you may never see a player of his stature in your lifetime.”