Lionel Messi: A legacy sans a World Cup victory
"I tried so hard and got so far but
In the end It doesn't even matter"
Should a legacy be defined by the absence of an international trophy? Should the absence of one trophy with the nation be blamed on a single player? Should a player still be defined by the chances he could not take? Or should a player be considered the greatest of all time despite his failures at a certain level?
The lines at the top belong to Linkin Park. It is one of their classic songs from their first album, Hybrid Theory. The song among the raps and the soothing vocals shot its way to the top 10 of Billboards in 2002. It was a pioneer for the future albums of the band.
What stands out to me, is the cohesive lyrics of the song. Talking about the value of time, the struggles in journey and the meaning of the reaching the destination.
Simply a classic song from an amazing band, it coincidentally depicts the career of Lionel Messi. 2014 was a year for football fan to rejoice, to travel to Brazil and enjoy the event. But to Leo, it was the best chance he had at the World Cup. At the prime age of 27, his teammates were performing at their prime, and he had the captain's armband around his sleeve. The nation believed they could achieve it.
At the turf of their arch-rivals, Leo performed like he never did at the World Cup. The challenges put forward to the Argentine, the Swiss, the Belgians, the Dutch all fell. One final stage, one match if he had won, he would be the undisputed G.O.A.T. But at our roots, we are all humans. And even Messi missed the chance that was easy for his liking.
Although the helpless man, walked up without a smile, holding back tears, and collected the Golden Ball, nobody cared about it; all of a sudden the Golden Ball was meaningless. It was like, lose it at the final or at the quarters, loss is a loss. The achievement suddenly became pointless. Leo didn't even get the Ballon d'Or that season.
He tried again at the Copa America tournaments. Again he failed. But again, he was adjudged the Best Player of Copa America twice, only to be trolled; years of hard work judged by one missed penalty. The best player award was regarded as pointless. The CONCACAF and CONMEBOL nations were labeled easy oppositions.
Things became tougher for the man, he received death threats, people stamped and spit on his images, they broke his statues. He was called a national traitor, an international failure. His horrific miss which should have been mourned together by the football fraternity became another gif for laughs; His tears, a source of laughter for some.
But when he pushed aside the drama and bid farewell to his nation things changed. The people took to streets, the fraternity claimed it is early, the World Cup Winners of 1986 requested him to come back. So he came back. And again he earned a name, fake retirement. Why this man of all people? Zidane came out of retirement, Terry missed a penalty that caused a UCL loss, Ronaldo failed to beat Greece at Euros. Why this hate towards Messi?
His own people, the 43 million of Argentina that he lauds as his own broke his statues. But alas his destiny or rather dream is to lead those people to a glory. Michael Andrews in 2001, sang something called Mad World. It said "The dreams which I am dying are the best I ever had." In a similar scenario, Messi wants to listen to more critics but still lead his nation to a win. The more tough it is, the more he wants to achieve it.
Why should his career be defined by his failures? It wasn't his fault. He did everything within his human limits. His individual awards in the tournaments are proof of it. He tried. But Christopher Nolan with his charismatic villainous persona called the Joker gave the answer long before the question. "No matter how good you are, people will judge you based on their moods and needs." And that is the bottom-line of it. Leo and his legacy has been tarnished by some people who hate him. Some who he doesn't play for. Or maybe some who support any other player.
But Messi and his legacy are too big to be tarnished. His left foot is an alchemist turning everything into gold. The judgment of some is not the biggest case. Failures won't define a legacy for he is stronger today because he has been weak once. He does his talking with his foot and his feet could talk trash. Ask Manuel Neuer how it felt to be chipped after challenging the great man.
Beating the best goalkeepers, scoring the toughest goals, controlling the ball like the foot is a magnet. That is his legacy. To earn the praise of athletes from his sport and others, that is legacy. Nutmegging the players, making the defenders look silly, stealing the keepers of their reflexes, that is his legacy. The praises of his opponents for him, praises of the best coaches, that is untouchable.
Messi didn't get into the shortlist for the FIFA Men's Best Player of the Year award. But can we just say that it has been too routine? Scoring 50 odd goals and 25 odd assists, has been too routine. For any other player, it would win them the award, because it is unexpected. For Leo, awards have come already. People want to see more. Messi will do what he does again this season. After all his legacy, has nothing to do with awards.