Lionel Messi’s win is a triumph of genius and tolerance | Qatar World Cup 2022

Despite the tattoo and beard, Lionel Messi still looks like a boy who loves to play with the ball.

This is the simplicity and beauty that Messi will always be remembered for – a boy with the ball who amazed the world with his great skills and humility.

It has been a privilege to see Messi realize his dream of becoming a world champion with his talented teammates and a grateful nation at his side.

There seems to be an inevitability to Messi’s victory. Having falter before Saudi Arabia In the opening match, the miracle from Argentina seemed determined not to be disappointed again.

Game after game, he hit the ball himself, evoke goal with her magical feet and imagination.

And after each goal, in a familiar and moving ritual, Messi points to the sky with a kiss in homage to a grandmother, who knows that given the chance, the little prodigy can make the ball make miracles.

Messi’s late grandmother: ‘Put it on and you’ll see how well he plays’ told a skeptical coach a long time ago.

That “boy” has repeatedly paid back her faith in him over the years – from Rosario and Argentina to Barcelona and Paris. He became rich and famous. Perhaps as famous and beloved as Muhammad Ali.

But Messi does not forget that it all started with the pitch, the ball and the hope of his grandmother. Unlike some of his contemporaries, fame, wealth, and admiration didn’t turn the charming boy with the ball into a preening prima donna.

Messi shares the explosive joy he is responsible for with the rest of us. His outstretched arms invite us to join the celebration. He wants us to feel what he feels in those pristine moments – happiness.

He did it again and again in Qatar. So Messi will also be remembered for his generosity. He reminds us of our youth and the happiness we once tasted when we played football in the sun.

After winning the World Cup, Messi stand Ramrod straight on the white podium waiting to raise the trophy. The emir of Qatar presented Messi with a “bisht” robe, a traditional Arab robe with gold, black trim.

Messi accepted the shirt as a sign of respect with a nod and a smile. He applauded. It seems to me that Messi understands that it is important to stop to realize that although he is Argentinian, he, like Ali, belonged to the world at that moment, in that place.

By giving the bisht, Messi also accepts tolerance and understands that his hosts will keep it in mind. He also dismisses the predictable cynicism and racism of the league’s small collection of trivial opponents. Their vitriol and ignorance emphasizes only the strength of the man who, throughout his career, has celebrated the diversity that the World Cup represents.

That strength is on display whenever Messi is tested during the tournament.

The two-goal lead over the Netherlands in the rowdy quarter-final went up in smoke instantly. Instead of moody, Messi – perhaps motivated by the Dutch coach’s policy suggest that he is not a force – playing with purpose and determined to win a breath-taking penalty shootout.

Next, in front of a stubborn Croatia, Messi’s genius was revealed. His Memorable run start on the touchline near the center of the field. He pushes the ball forward while a defender tries in vain to thwart the coming excellence. As he darted towards goal, Messi stopped, bobbing and intertwining, the ball following him without a doubt. Then, he dribbled the ball past the bewildered defender and to the feet of a teammate.

The goal created a roar – a mixture of awe and admiration – that some exceptional athletes can only produce. Messi turned, raised his hand, towards the shaking stands. In response, the crowd shouted “Messi,” “Messi,” “Messi,” as if in recognition of the phenomenon they and we had just witnessed.

That, in my opinion, is the moment of the tournament – ​​when a great athlete asserts his greatness and shares it with audiences near and far.

Now the mighty France – and especially the elegant striker Kylian Mbappé – stands between Messi and history.

Taking a 2-0 lead with 10 minutes to go, the World Cup seems to be within Messi’s grasp – at last. The French, however, showed their mettle. Mbappé scored twice, sending an already beautiful game into frantic stoppage time.

Messi was challenged once again. Doubt and disillusionment have been replaced by a champion’s will to win. Messi scored another goal before Mbappé responded.

About punishment. When the drama ended, Messi fell to his knees, overwhelmed and relieved before being engulfed by his teammates and coach. We were there with his spirit, grateful that a one-of-a-kind player – the “boy” with that ball – had win the trophy that eluded him.

Messi’s grandmother would be proud.

Grandma would be proud not only for his victory, but also for the quiet grace her grandson later displayed by accepting a simple gesture of gratitude from the hosts for his victory. show his unparalleled talent on the greatest stage.

With the golden trophy in hand and the scarf wrapped around him, Messi jumped and shouted for joy – and we also danced and shouted for joy next to him.

Messi’s journey from Rosario to Doha transcends borders and nationalities. Messi is proof that it’s possible to reach the top and still retain the humility that his humble beginnings and his grandmother’s were certainly ingrained in him.

Football is a global sport and Messi is its global ambassador. We were lucky to see the magic dance with a ball.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of Al Jazeera.


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