11:38pm, 28th June, 2016
“We are all ordinary.
We are all boring.
We are all spectacular.
We are all shy.
We are all bold.
We are all heroes.
We are all helpless.
It just depends on the day.” – Brad Meltzer
I was one of the many Albiceleste Jersey No. 10 fans all geared up in front of the television at the wee hours expecting the jinx would be broken. As fate would have it, the day turned out pretty awkward for football fans all across – Argentines and Messi were running helter skelter looking for their mojo, Spanish tiki-taka was pressed into oblivion by the un-characteristic high pressing attack of Azzurri and if these were not enough English suffered another exit from a European rendezvous and the canons for rubbing the wound were fired by a non-European Union member (can’t get worse for them, can it?). The reports splashed across all media are talking about decline of Spanish team, mass exodus of Argentine flag bearers and loss of talent in English Premier League once Britain’s exit from EU is inked.
“What struck in the grand finale was no less than a lightning bolt.”
It won’t be an understatement to say that Lionel Andre Messi is the best footballer of his generation, 5 Ballon d’Ors do justice to this testimony. He has all the stars pinned to his chest, any footballer worth his salt would aspire for but the central spot in his trophy cabinet still lies vacant. This was third year in succession when he had carried his team to an International tournament’s finale, his fans hoping he would turn out to be ‘third time lucky’ and fill the vacant spot in the cabinet. The euphoria was built on his self-bettering performances in each game even though he missed the first game; the highlights included a hat-trick in 19 minutes against Panama and an awe-inspiring free-kick against the US in semifinal which perched him to the top of the International goal scorer list for his country. It all seemed magical and lifting the cup looked like the next logical step. What struck in the grand finale was no less than a lightning bolt, dampening the mood of all and sundry. Messi is revered for converting the set pieces and nobody could have imagined him missing a penalty and getting crowned as the next ‘Miss Penalty’ (sic). The news trickled in moments after the ceremony that Messi has expressed his desire to stop appearing in Whites & Blues. Not far behind were his fellow teammates signalling that there could be more following his suit.
Image source : turner.com
The way in which pundits are writing obituaries of glorious past of some modern greats (individuals & teams), the question lurking around the corner is – who’ll carry the baton of ‘role model’ in Football, who would be the ‘new kid on the block’ and who would a blossoming Messi want to get transformed into – a national hero la Pele or Maradona or a flawed genius doppelganger?
Food for thought may be!