Lionel Messi's genius is impossible to describe. The Argentine is widely regarded as the greatest footballer of all time and has drawn comparisons for compatriot Diego Maradona, who was La Albiceleste's talisman back in the day.
Maradona also represented Barcelona, albeit briefly, but the former Argentina manager is renowned for his time with Napoli. El Diego was also involved in one of the most controversial moments in football history, as his infamous Hand of God goal against England in the 1986 World Cup gave Argentina a 2-1 victory.
Lionel Messi's Hand of God moment
Much like Maradona, Lionel Messi is a genius with the ball at his feet, but did you know the diminutive Argentine experienced his own Hand of God moment?
As Barcelona took on local rivals RCD Espanyol, the Blaugrana were trailing 1-0 with 43 minutes played on the clock. What followed next was a moment that would be etched in football history, as Lionel Messi stroked the ball into the back of the net to restore parity with his hand!
The Espanyol players were livid with the referee, who failed to spot the offence. While in today's game the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) has been implemented to ensure such violations don't go unpunished, Lionel Messi and Barcelona got away with it in 2007.
Lionel Messi scored once again in the second half, but the game finished 2-2, as Espanyol grabbed a deserved equalizer in stoppage time to salvage a draw. On the other hand, Maradona's Hand of God moment proved to be detrimental to England's hopes, as Argentina secured a 2-1 victory to advance to the semi-finals.
In the same game, Maradona also ran the length of the field and put the ball into the back of the net, a goal which was later voted as the "Best Goal of the Century." Lionel Messi would later replicate Maradona's solo effort against England too, just like he did so with the Hand of God moment. Maybe history does repeat itself, huh?
While Maradona went on to win the World Cup in 1986 as Argentina's captain, world football biggest prize continues to elude Lionel Messi. With five goals and five assists that year, Maradona was by far the player of the tournament and cemented his legacy as one of the greats of the game.
Lionel Messi was close to having his crowning moment in 2014, as he spearheaded Argentina to the final with a string of sensational performances. Only Germany stood between the Argentine and the World Cup, but a late goal from Mario Gotze meant that Messi's World Cup dream was dashed in gruelling circumstances.
Even the Copa America continues to elude Messi, whose international trophy drought is the only blemish in an otherwise flawless career. Lionel Messi's Hand of God moment was not as iconic as Diego Maradona's, but the duo have been involved in eerily similar events throughout their careers.
Published 10 May 2020, 17:20 IST