Lionel Messi: The world at his feet

Even at 35, an age when a player is considered to be ‘old’, the Argentinian star is showing no limitations in the sport


Leslie Wilson Jr

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Published: Wed 14 Dec 2022, 10:27 PM

If you ever wanted confirmation of the true meaning of the word greatness look no further than Lionel Messi.

The little man from Rosario, in the central Argentine province of Santa Fe, is greatness personified.

To the uninitiated, football may appear to be a rather simple game to master. After all, you only have to kick an inflated leather ball around a rectangular-shaped ground before you attempt to place it between two poles holding a fish net.

However, anyone who has watched the Fifa World Cup in Qatar will have understood by now that football is a far more technical and sophisticated game than meets the eyes, Like most sports, it’s a game that requires exceptional mental and physical skills and abilities, to master.

Not everybody who plays the planet’s most watched sport which boasts over 3.5 billion fans, has been able to have achieved complete mastery of their craft.

Many have attempted to, but very few have succeeded – Pele, Diego Maradona, Christiano Ronaldo, Johan Cruyff, Franz Beckenbauer, Zinadine Zidane, Ferenc Puskas, and George Best being among an elite group who have come close to footballing perfection.

But that list will not be complete without the mention of Messi. Even at 35, an age when a player is usually considered to be ‘old’, Messi is showing no limitations in the sport that has been his life-blood for close to two decades.

The Messi magic that we were fortunate and blessed to witness on Tuesday night in Qatar when he almost single-handedly tore Croatia to pieces, was incomprehensible.

Here was a man, that many non-believers had written off before the start of football’s quadrennial showpiece, playing at the height of his powers. A height that even some of the game’s greatest players have not quite scaled.

There was so much to like and admire about the persona that Messi, who scored once and had a magical hand in two others, has brought to football’s biggest stage.

He is at his brilliant best - divine, flawless, bold as brass, able-bodied, insightful, and ruthless. All of this combines with a new-found aggressiveness that adds an edge to his character.

After the end of the Maradona era, Argentina were desperate for a successor and they could not have hoped for a greater figure than Messi.

The artistry that he put on display against Croatia, one of the most patient and controlled teams in Europe that boasts the strongest midfield in world football, made their legends like Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic, and Mateo Kovacic, look ordinary.

Let us forget the astonishing records that he has set over the years for the moment and ponder on the 35-year-old enchanter. It’s one thing to reach the pinnacle of a sport, but it is quite something else to stay that.

And that in essence is what Messi has been able to accomplish and is still enthralling us, match after match.

Even television cameramen are spellbound by the magician of Santa Fe as we saw on Tuesday night when almost every emotion, every fist-pump, every knowing smile was captured on camera and shown for all the world to see.

The beard, which was once known to symbolize maturity and knowledge, is now a mark of male dominance, Messi's dominance.


Messi is not yet finished, by no stretch of the imagination. On Sunday he will hope to write his name on football’s greatest prize, the Jules Rimet Trophy, and give Argentina a fourth success in the showpiece.

It’s another shot at glory and another piece of silverware for a man whose legs and mind are showing no signs of slowing down.

Beyond the superlatives, Messi deserves total respect for what he has given a football as he stands on the cusp of greatness.

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