Sitting here, I’m faced with a difficult reality, writing about Messi isn’t as easy as it may seem. You would be forgiven for limiting the process to more or less an eulogy about the phenomena that is Lionel Andrés Messi, but if all I do is praise him how original will that be? And more importantly how will that make justice of this seemingly superhuman man?
In front of the Camp Nou is a statue of Lazsio Kubala, one of Barcelona’s all-time greats. His magic was too big for Les Corts so Barcelona built the Camp Nou, and till this day his statue compels his legacy to be remembered. And then there is Luis Suarez (not the vampire), the only Spaniard to win the Ballon d’Or, and is widely considered as one of Spain’s greatest players ever. His elegant, fluid, and graceful style of play earned him the nickname “El Arquitecto” (The Architect). Until Xavi Hernandez, he was rightly acknowledged as a passing-master for his perceptive passing, and his explosive shot got him many goals. In modern times, I have been blessed to watch Xavi conducting Barcelona’s fantastic orchestra of football in metronomic precision, spraying passes, running more than anyone, claiming assists and popping up with a few goals for the fun of it. How can Johan Cruyff be forgotten. As a player and manager, he took Barca to heights considered at that time unimaginable, till of course Messi came and now they seem normal. As a player Cruyff dazzled for first Ajax and then Barcelona, leaving the crowd mesmerized with his technique, dribbling, vision and “elasticos”. A three time Ballon d’Or winner himself, Cruyff remains undoubtedly one of football’s greatest players ever. The Camp Nou has also been home to Maradonna, Hristo Stoichkov, Ronaldo (the Brazilian), Guardiola, Rivaldo, Luis Enrique, Ronaldinho, and still is the hone of Andres Iniesta, Neymar and Luis Suarez (yes the vampire).
Pele and Maradonna will continue to throw their World Cup titles at us in hopes that by seeing these most coveted trophies we would save the “greatest-of-all-time” broche for them. Well, we cannot. We cannot deny this unprecedented domination of Lionel Messi. We cannot watch him week-in-week-out with our hearts in our mouths and our brains ecstatic in awestruck wonderment and still fail to regard him as football’s double rainbow. Unprecedented. Unrepeatable. No we cannot!
Messi is really special. Five Ballon d’Or trophies says he is.
Cristiano Ronaldo put up a good fight and made this a little more interesting, who knows he might go on to win his fourth next year (yes, he’s that good). But the Messi who continues to break all the records, and has broken countless already, from Barca’s all-time top scorer to La Liga’s all-time top scorer, still remains a cut above his compatriot. This is a man who defies description, only when compared with other greats does his true legend shine.