The Argentines breathe a sigh of relief as the referee points towards the penalty spot. A bit too early? Probably not, considering the circumstances. They opened the scoring in the 19th minute, courtesy to Sergio Aguero’s thundering shot from inside the box. But Iceland stunned them 4 minutes later, as Finnbogason’s strike went past the Argentine goalie to equalise.
For the next 41 minutes, the South Americans looked promising in attack and penetrated the Icelandic defence several times, but all this time, Iceland, World Cup debutante and the smallest nation to take part in the World Cup, managed to hold them off. So when the referee pointed to the penalty spot, the relief was all but understood.
The relief may seem premature, but if you put it in perspective, then all the odds were in their favour. They had probably the greatest striker of all time in their team to take the penalty. They had Leo Messi. The goalkeeper wasn’t the best in the world. In fact far from the best. Messi had to score. There was no way he couldn’t score.
But in the end, he couldn’t score. He would probably have scored 9 times out of 10. But this time he didn’t. And there was nothing he could do but humbly walk away with his head down and get back into the game as best as he could. He may be the best player in the world but it doesn’t matter here. What matters, is that he missed. But he didn't fret over it.
For the legend that he is, and the stage that this was, it was probably a huge mistake. But he put it behind him and tried his best to score again. That is the beauty of Messi. And that is the beauty of sports. It doesn’t matter what you did in the last match. It doesn’t matter if you are the best or the worst.
It doesn’t matter if you are rich, poor, black, white, tall, short, smart, or dumb. All that matters is what you do on the field today. And that is exactly why I believe that everyone should play sports.
It is a great leveller. Sometimes it will elevate you to unforeseen levels of performance, while sometimes it will destroy your ego completely with a nightmarish string of lows. You may be the best in the business, but you may still fail. And Messi’s is just one of the countless examples there are. Take cricket for example.
You may be a very good bowler like Ashwin or Starc. But there are days when you get plundered to all parts of the park and there is nothing you can do then. All you can do is come back stronger the next day.
This attitude is very important in life itself. And sports is the best teacher. If you failed yesterday, then it doesn’t mean that you will fail today. And if you did well yesterday, then it doesn’t guarantee success today. It teaches you to always remain grounded. Because no one’s ego lasts long. Not in sports, not in life.
There will be that one day, when your manhood will be violated, no matter how good you are. Because life is unfair. The earlier you realise this, the better it is. So if you start playing now, you are better prepared to face it. As they say, “ you should hope for the best, and prepare for the worst.” Because even Messi “the best”, had to face the worst.
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