AB De Villiers, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo: Why do GOATs find it tough to win World Cups?
I’m neither a football fan nor an expert. I neither follow English Premier League nor Champions League. Neither La Liga contests nor Bundesliga results affect my sleep pattern. Real Madrid-Barcelona clashes are mere news items for me being a sports journalist.
Lionel Messi…Cristiano Ronaldo…I don’t know their stats, their goals scored, their best goals, their moments, number of league titles they possess...Nothing bothers me.
All I know is Messi 10, CR7, they fall under the ‘GOAT’ category and most importantly they don’t have a World Cup title in their Trophy cabinet. All I did was watch Ireland get smashed by India in T20 cricket while German football fans were mourning their shock exit from the ongoing World Cup.
Like India-Pakistan who were knocked out on the same day in the 2007 T20 World Cup, Argentina and Portugal endured a similar fate on Sunday.
‘World Cup doesn’t deserve Messi, CR7’, ‘CR7, Messi can’t win a World Cup’, ‘Still they are GOAT’…So many such posts made me think, why is it difficult for a ‘GOAT’ to win a World Cup title?
They are supposed to do stuff that no one else can accomplish. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Tiger Woods, Novak Djokovic, Michael Schumacher…All GOAT in their respective sport. Messi, Ronaldo, Sir Vivian Richards, AB de Villiers, Sachin Tendulkar, Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting…They too are GOATs.
The first set of athletes fall under individual sport while the second comes under team sport. Sachin Tendulkar tried hard, harder and even harder. Time was running out. And finally, his moment came in 2011. Messi and CR7, again, I don’t know their number of World Cup appearances but they certainly had a good shot at the WC and yet faltered. AB de Villiers is another case.
World Cup Trophy certainly is unlucky not to have been kissed by genius individuals like Messi, CR7, and ABD. But they are supposed to score goals, inflict run outs and stand up like a king under pressure when their teams are up against it. They are blessed with talent like nobody else. Yet, come the crunch they flounder. Winning World Cup titles in a team sport is completely different to winning titles in a franchise-based league.
1992 cricket World Cup. Imran Khan, one of the greatest allrounders in cricket, was in his last leg. He had no WCs to his tally. But then emerged two GOATs-to-be Inzamam-ul-Haq and Wasim Akram. Moments of inspirations came from the willow of ‘Inzy bhai’ and reverse swing king Akram.
2011 cricket World Cup. Tendulkar failed in the final yet again. But there were a couple of GOATs-to-be who soaked in the pressure and raised against all odds. Kohli’s contribution was not that big but then that stand with Gautam Gambhir at No 3 was critical and then came Dhoni’s moment.
Jacques Kallis was another GOAT but by the time ABD peaked, Kallis was at the fag end of his career. Maybe, there is a need for another GOAT-to-be present alongside the GOAT.
Take the example of the Australian Cricket Team and Brazil Football Team.
Australia’s domination in the World Cups was due to the presence of numerous stars and stars-to-be in the same dugout. Ponting wasn’t a star in 1996 WC. But they knew he had it in him. Backed him. Adam Gilchrist in 1999. The duo were sensational together in 2003 and 2007 World Cups. Michael Clarke was another who was touted to be a GOAT and it eventually happened in 2015.
Brazil in 2002 had the likes of Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho and a young Kaka. Again I don’t even know a single stat about them. They all had tasted what success at World Cup would be.
Did Argentina and Portugal spot their GOATs-to-be post-Messi and CR7? Again I don’t know. But every time I watched Argentina or Portugal play, it was all about Messi and Ronaldo.
One of my colleagues at Sportskeeda kept stating that 24-year-old Paulo Dybala was an exceptional player and that he was fielded for less number of minutes in the entire WC than the actual goals he had scored last season!
About AB de Villiers’ retirement, legendary South African batsman Barry Richards told Sportskeeda in an interview: “I’m sad that he doesn’t have a WC title. I’m sad that Jacques Kallis doesn’t have one. Both of them deserve it. But life sometimes isn’t a fairy tale.”
However, his final statement was: “I don’t think there will be another ABD for a while. You never know though there could be someone in the U11s lurking somewhere.”
Maybe, somewhere in the streets of Argentina or Portugal, there could well be another Messi or CR7 hidden somewhere. Spotting them and blooding them among the existing GOATs as the GOAT-to-be in lies the challenge.