DOES MESSI HAVE TO WIN THE WORLD CUP TO BE CONSIDERED FOOTBALL'S GREATEST?
Lionel Messi, unarguably football’s greatest playing individual of this generation has been under intense attack from the football hemisphere as to whether or not he needs to win the world cup to be considered the greatest of all time.
Several questions need to be asked? Is messi one of the greatest? Yes. As a matter of fact, he is one of the greatest sportsmen ever.
Another question that needs to be asked is the definition of ‘Greatness’. Is Greatness about ability or achievements? Does Greatness in Football hinge on winning the world cup alone?
Undoubtedly, messi is precariously talented. His ability has never been questioned. His achievement with both Fc Barcelona and The Albeceleste of Argentina is staggering. With the Argentine team, he has proven himself at all levels; From the U-20 world cup at Netherlands in 2005 where and when he first caught the eye; He singlehandedly carried his team to the finals and was instrumental in the final against the Mikel Obi led Flying eagles of Nigeria.
Messi went on to win the Football event of the Olympics too in 2008 at China, and he was absolutely instrumental there too. In 2014, he captained his national team to the finals and lost to a very good German team.
Individually, Messi has been a phenomenon for his national team. Collectively, the argentines have improved since he rose to the senior team in 2006. But there are still question marks about his dedication to the national team.
The world cup is football’s biggest and most lucrative event. Players whose abilities don’t come close to messi’s have gone on to win the world cup and have written their names in the history books forever. Italian Defender, Fabio Cannavaro was FIFA player of the year in 2006 because he had captained the Azzuris of Italy to win the world cup in 2006 at Germany. So, winning the world cup is instrumental.
World cup years have proven instrumental in the past as to who wins the best player of that year. The winner of the player of the year has always had a brilliant campaign at the world cup.
Pele who won the world cup with brazil at 17 in 1958, and then went on to win subsequent editions in 1962, and 1970, becoming the only player to do so is considered by many as a more greater player than messi because of his incredulous feats with his national team. Pele scored 77 gials in 92 games for Brazil. He won the Copa Libertadaores (The South American version of the Uefa Champions League) in 1962 and 1963. He won the intercontinental super cup in 1968.
He was best player of the South American championship in 1959 where he was also top scorer, and was also the best young player at the FIFA world up the year before (1958), and was best player at the FIFA world cup in 1970. He is the youngest player to score a hatrick at the world cup, among many other personal achievements he had that endeared him to the football generation of then.
He is considered the Greatest player ever because of his goal scoring abilities and his Individual achievements at both club and country level.
Messi, however needs no introduction about his abilities. He scores with both feet, he scores with his head, and he is by far the best free-kick player the world has seen since Juninho retired. He has an incredible vision and his ability to pick passes in very tiny and cute spaces is staggering. He is a football mastermind, an upgrade on the legendary Diego Armando Maradona. He is quick, fast, direct, and intelligent with his runs, and has a great awareness and vision when off the ball. Messi is a football sage.
But does football ability equate to football greatness? He is the only player in this era to be mentioned in the same bracket with Pele and Maradona(who won the world cup in 1986 at mexico). If he wins the world cup, he would be considered as the greatest footballer ever.