“Thank God Messi exists. Imagine, if he wasn’t around we’d still have to be talking about Maradona,” says the late Dutch maestro Johan Cruyff in the documentary film ‘Messi’.
To many football fans of this generation though, Messi and God, are one of the same. The only time the Barcelona star is actually questioned as being mortal is when he puts on the national shirt of Argentina.
This year’s Copa America tournament seemed to be going a long way to finally answering his national team doubters. Messi’s sensational free-kick past Aston Villa’s Brad Guzan in the 4-0 semi-final win against USA, was his 55th goal for Argentina, making him the national team’s record highest scorer, taking him past the previous record holder Gabriel Batistuta’s 54 goal tally (Marandona had scored 34).
You couldn’t have predicted a starker contrast in fortunes in the final against Chile though, as Messi failed to even hit the target in the final’s deciding penalty shoot-out, that led to a 4-2 loss. After the game, Messi announced his retirement from international football.
“For me the national team is over. I’ve done all I can, it hurts not to be a champion,” said Messi, after the Copa final loss. “I don’t think I will (return). I made up my mind. I did everything possible to win and it’s done. It’s four finals we lost.”
When you add to that quartet of Copa America losses, an extra-time World Cup loss in 2014 to Germany, such footballing heartbreak isn’t something that Messi is used to.
Messi’s tears at the end of the Copa America loss to Chile mirrored his first ever appearance for Argentina, aged 18, when he was sent off, less than a minute after coming on as a substitute in the 2-1 win against Hungry in 2005. The teenager was reportedly found after the game in the dressing room in tears.
Contrast that to the five-time FIFA Player of Year winner’s success with Barcelona, where amongst other trophies, he’s won four Champions League titles and eight Spanish La Liga crowns.
Only Cristiano Ronaldo can compete with Messi in modern day football, although both have had their demons when it comes to playing for their country. Despite this both players are more than worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence as such greats as Marandona, Cruyff and Pele.
It’s no surprise that both have also had documentaries made about them in recent years. The biggest difference between Messi and Ronaldo though is while people have swapped places with Ronaldo in Nike adverts, swapping places with Messi, is something that even the best players would be curious to do.
“How beautiful it would be to become Messi for five seconds, just to see what it feels like,” ponder’s Messi’s friend and Barca teammate Javier Mascherano in the Messi doco.
Why? Because, as the Argentina-born victorious Copa America Chilean coach, Juan Antonio Pizzi, says, he can do the impossible.
“Messi’s numbers are unparalleled,” says Pizzi.
“I think they’ll remain that way forever, because it’s impossible for a football player to do what Messi has done.”
MESSI DVD COMPETITION
To honour Messi’s international retirement, MOMS has five MESSI DVD’s to give away. The film explores what made Lionel Messi the player he became. The film intertwines a recreation of Messi’s childhood and adolescence, with archive footage of his finest moments and also has excerpts from a fun restaurant conversation with some of his Barca teammates, esteemed journalists and greats like the late Johan Cruyff, discussing Messi over dinner!
To be in with a chance of winning a copy of the Messi Documentary DVD, simply answer the following question and email the answer with the subject ‘MESSI’ to contact [at] myoldmansaid [dot] com
Question: What was the aggregate score over two legs when Aston Villa beat Barcelona in the 1983 European Super Cup?
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