It’s in times of adversity, that a true character of a sportsperson shows itself. It’s these moments, in every athlete’s life that define them. Even the best of players face situations in their careers when they have their backs to the wall. While many crumble in such moments, legends rise to the occasion like Lionel Messi did on Tuesday night.
The final round of CONEMBOL World Cup qualifiers started with Argentina outside the qualifying spots. As things stood, Argentina won’t have even make the intercontinental playoffs. Despite their star-studded team, the prospect of the Albiceleste not making the World Cup was unimaginably real. A daunting reality of the world’s best player not playing the sports premier event had hit football fans across the globe. There was a universal nervousness among football fans around the globe prior to kickoff.
When Ecuador took the lead in less than a minute of the start, one could only fear the worse. The Argentine defense was breached. Their track record of late had been so poor, one found it hard to see them coming back in the match. Then, a certain Lionel Messi stepped up.
The 5 time Ballon d’Or Winner was a determined man. He wasn’t even entertaining the idea of a World Cup without him. Questions were fired at him and Messi answered them in the way he knows best.
Like every Argentina game off late, Messi ran the show. He was the source of anything and everything they did in the match. On this night unlike many before, destiny favored him. In arguably the most high-pressure game of his life, the Barcelona legend scored a hattrick. Three brilliant finishes of his left foot were enough to land his side a place to Russia in the summer of 2018. Lionel Messi had once again produced his best when the stakes were the highest.
It’s not for everyone to produce such a performance in a game of that magnitude. That is something only a very few are capable of. What Messi made look so easy in the high altitude of Ecuador, is only a dream of most players. Even his most loyal fans feared in the build-up to the match, that failure could be a big blot on his career. Instead, Messi chose this moment to further enrich his legacy. Doing it, when his country needed him the most.
One day, Messi will call off his boots. The trophies won, the individual awards and his numbers will speak for themselves. But its nights like yesterday, that fans will remember the most. The joy that viewers receive once he touches the football. The ability to produce his best when the chips are down. The expertise to carry his club and national team through thick and thin. Messi’s legacy is more about the occasions he produced magic on more than the unbelievable number of times he did.
This performance will remain in minds of the game followers for a long long time. It is one of the great sporting moments. True champions of the game battling triumphing over challenges is a sight to behold. The odds were against Lionel Messi in Quito but Cometh the hour, Cometh the man.