I cried on Sunday.
I haven’t done that in years. I’m not Argentinian, and I’m not even a huge Lionel Messi fanboy but I just couldn’t help it. There is something so romantic about this sport, ‘the beautiful game’, but there is something about it that can elicit incredible emotion even from someone on the opposite side of the world.
To see the greatest player of all time reach the most incredible height of the sport is the epitome of romance; you couldn’t write a better story. A story like this is significant enough to unite the world, and it has. People from all over the world with many or no connections to Messi and Argentina have been able to experience the immense emotions that the beautiful game brings.
On the pitch, this World Cup has been majestic. So many incredible stories and performances: Saudi Arabia’s upset of the eventual victors, the chaos at the end of the group stage, Morocco’s historic journey, the list goes on and on. Nothing could tie this World Cup together better than the greatest player of all time ascending to win football’s biggest prize.
Messi’s greatness wouldn’t have been defined by the outcome of Sunday’s thrilling final, but his triumph means he’s secured himself the GOAT throne in the eyes of many. This Argentina team played for their magic man, and they likely wanted this for him just as badly as he did. After stunningly losing their tournament opener, it was easy to doubt if this team could win it all, but they managed to turn it around.
This team may or may not be as talented as previous Argentina squads, but they played as a unit striving for one goal. Angel Di Maria, Enzo Fernandez, Emi Martinez, Alexis Mac Allister, and Julian Alverez all put everything they could into this team’s success alongside the player of the tournament: Lionel Messi. Di Maria, in particular, was aptly described as Messi’s “Samwise Gamgee” as the veteran was imperative in both the victory in this World Cup and also in capturing last summer’s Copa America.
Lionel Messi has officially ascended to the top of the football world. I think that’s something to cry tears of joy about.