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An ode to Lionel Messi - the seismic aura of a small man

Omer K
CONTRIBUTOR
Feature
Timeless

Real Betis Balompie v FC Barcelona - La Liga
Real Betis Balompie v FC Barcelona - La Liga

“I feel for those who don’t watch football”.

These are words commonly echoed in the football (not soccer!) world. Words I may have spouted a few hundred times on the day of that famous Aguerooooooo! moment. Words I do not believe.

With an objective perspective, we’re a herd of men and women with an irrational attachment towards a game filled with moments of exploding emotion, that only fans of our game can understand the magnitude of, through context and blind love. Football provides us with a sense of belonging, and as we revel in this comfort, we attempt to tease the notion that it is more than just a game.

Once a week, however, football captures the height of sporting essence. When a 5"7 bloke from Argentina takes to the field, with a seeming obliviousness to his godlike talents. Whether it’s the magic carpet of the Nou Camp or the ‘home’ of his opponents. Merely the illusion of a home, as Lionel Messi owns all that is green beneath his holy feet. All of the greats in football have had the fortune of sharing the pitch with him, and the misfortune of finding themselves on the opposing side.

Gigi Buffon, Roberto Carlos, Alessandro Nesta, Cristiano, Iker Casillas, Paul Scholes, and Manuel Neuer among others. Some came close and often brought him to temporary halts, while others were wiser in accepting their fate and becoming spectators to art, as his left-footed brushstrokes painted a picture beyond interpretation.

World Cup 2010, Round of 16: Rafa Marquez and his Mexican teammates helplessly follow the ball as Messi attempts a chip. Photograph: Javierly/LaLllama/Flickr
World Cup 2010, Round of 16: Rafa Marquez and his Mexican teammates helplessly follow the ball as Messi attempts a chip. Photograph: Javierly/LaLllama/Flickr

A magnified view on the Evolution theory. Messi’s cognition and coordination has evolved beyond that of his peers. An ability to bend time and space, allowing him to go for evening strolls in situations of high pressure for mere mortals. Away from 1, 2, 3, 4. That ability to dribble, you wouldn’t be crazy to compare to Maradona. An ability to see and execute passes that must infuriate Guti and all players alike that built their careers on creativity. An ability to finish, you would do him an injustice to compare to anyone.

“For me, to watch Messi play is a pleasure. It’s like having an orgasm – it’s an incredible pleasure” – Luis Figo

He is the only man (?) who feels more at ease trying to put the ball in the top corner from a free-kick, than a penalty. Most significant of all is his consistency in demonstrating these extraterrestrial powers. 

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Lionel Messi plays football on a weekly basis. There is an inconceivable amount of football fanatics who only watch him play in the Champions League or El Clasico. The eyes of the footballing world must soon lose their fixation on the chaos of the Premier League and open themselves up to the weekly wonders of this incredible man.

Messi is like an Oliver Twist character, picking a pocket or two, the Artful Dodger, where he’s just sort of slipping around, looking like a little lad in the playground. He’s not really taking it seriously, and he makes you smile every time he gets the ball. And when he does some of these things, I have to laugh because it’s not possible what he does. It’s wonderful to watch. You’ve got to pinch yourself sometimes, it’s really amazing what he does. – Terry Venables

Messi. Alba. Messi. Goal. That pass, normalized to the point where you may yawn in amazement. Weaving through world-class athletes in an almost patronizing manner, game after game. Words fail me, and numbers bore me. With all the technology in modern football aiding the premeditation that surrounds each match, for one man to nullify systems created by geniuses like Pep Guardiola, or master pragmatists like Diego Simeone, absurdity.

Lionel Messi plays football on a weekly basis. A small man, with a seismic, unforgettable aura. He has visited every major footballing land, devouring and pillaging all in his path. And now, at the steep age of 31, we’ll soon see the back of him. There will be another who takes the top spot. Not quite like Leo, but one who will keep us entertained, as the Alexa-esque AI devices we’re all inevitably consumed by, develop an exasperation towards requests to replay Messi compilations.

I feel for those who don’t watch Messi.

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