30 Day Challenges… Day 15
Am I really only half way through this?! Seemed like a good idea at the time and then I got really busy… anyway…
“A Player That Inspires You”
It has to be the incomparable Lionel Messi. There is no disputing – at least not by sane people – that Leo is one of the best players on the planet. Many would argue he is THE best. I find it very hard to pick a best because different positions mean different things to different people. For instance, I think Xavi Hernandez who plays along side Messi at Barcelona could easily be argued to be the best player too. But it’s Messi that really inspires.
It’s not just his terrific skill. Everyone’s seen it. The way he can dance through defences while the ball seems to stick to his feet even through impossible situations. He did it just last night against Barca’s bitter rivals Real Madrid in the Champions League semi final! The stage doesn’t come much bigger than that. I’m never going to be as good as him, but any time I score a goal at my level where I’ve managed to beat more than one person in doing so it’s Messi that springs to mind first. When I was playing in the park as a young boy you would always pretend you were a current player. Well, Messi would be mine if I was still that young boy.
But there’s more to Messi. As such a skillful player, he invariably gets booted the length of the park by some clogger teams that don’t know any other way to handle it. I’m not saying Messi’s perfect as I have seen him react to repeated kickings from the same player if the referee doesn’t stop it, but those instances are few and far between. Messi just doesn’t do the whole angry at the world thing much. He also stays away from the whole play-acting thing. You don’t see Messi rolling about on the turf like he’s been shot like you would some of his other teammates – I’m looking at you Dani Alves. If he’s down, it’s because you’ve kicked him hard enough to make him actually go down. If you haven’t kicked him hard enough he’s probably stayed on his feet and is ready to skin your teammate or stick the ball in the net.
The comparison that gets made a lot today is Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. I think that one’s a joke to be honest. I’m not doubting that Ronaldo is a talented player. But he’s so different it’s bizarre. Ronaldo is one of the fancy-dans that wants to do the several step overs that look very impressive but gets you nowhere. Messi will just do the simple stuff brilliantly and beat you that way. Ronaldo is one that WILL play act. And possibly more importantly, Ronaldo’s the kind of guy who disappears in big matches. Messi won’t always be the star of the show, but he rarely disappears completely. The World Cup in South Africa made me laugh. Commentators kept saying he had a disappointingly quiet tournament, as did Ronaldo. Yet most of the Argentina goals came from Messi’s work. Okay, he didn’t score them, but his teammates certainly benefited. Ronaldo was pretty much anonymous and Portugal didn’t benefit at all from him being there.
Messi is the kind of guy you pay to see. He’s terrifically talented while also being an honest and likeable character. He’s everything that is right about the game of football in an era where there is so much wrong with the game. I wish there were more like him.