A 13-year-old Lionel Messi as soon as gave a Q&A interview whereas he was nonetheless enjoying for the youth groups at Newell’s Old Boys. Speaking to Diario La Capital, an area newspaper in Rosario, he revealed that if he might eat any meal, it might be pollo con salsa (hen). If he might date any mannequin, it might be Argentine tv character Nicole Neumann. If he might watch any movie, it might be 1994 journey comedy Baby’s Day Out. And if he might do any job, he could be a PE instructor.
Earlier this week, a grainy scanned copy of that interview went semi-viral throughout social media. You may need seen it, in reality. The story was picked up by a number of information web sites and content material platforms. It was some of the “upvoted” posts on the r/soccer subreddit, no much less. It was shared and reshared, ripped and aggregated, recycled and regurgitated till we had all had our fill of it, in the way in which that each new and beforehand undetected morsel about Messi is.
Except this was not the primary time the interview had executed the rounds. It hadn’t been mendacity in somebody’s attic for the previous 22 years, solely to be uncovered just a few days earlier than essentially the most consequential night time of Messi’s lengthy profession. That could be fairly the coincidence, while you come to consider it. It had in reality first come to gentle three years in the past, when it was shared and reshared, ripped and aggregated, recycled and regurgitated till we had all had our fill of it then too.
That is the problem that Messi has posed to this occupation since first declaring his genius: what else is there to say that has not already been mentioned? Once you’ve gotten referred to as him the very best to ever do it, the place precisely do you go from there? This was Messi’s twenty sixth World Cup look, an all-time report. The press packing containers at these tournaments maintain a whole bunch of written journalists, all submitting a whole bunch of phrases. Multiply that by 26 and that’s a number of million phrases in complete. And that’s simply the World Cups, and simply us who didn’t pay to get in.
Yet at the very least with a last comes finality, winners and losers, clear breaks and sharp edges. So although you possibly can attempt to discover a new angle – you possibly can write about Angry Heel Turn Messi, Geopolitical Tool Messi, the Still Needs The Other 10 Lads Every Now and Again Messi – the Messi that everybody nonetheless desires to hear about at a World Cup last, the Messi that everyone nonetheless desires to speak about at a World Cup last, the Messi that each author privileged sufficient to be on the Lusail needed to find yourself writing about is the Great Messi, on the sting of greatness.
And maybe greater than another within the historical past of the game, this sport was about what individuals need, as a result of that was precisely what Messi needed too.
Just earlier than kick-off on the Lusail, as he walked again in the direction of the touchline to hand over France’s pre-match pendant, something in his peripheral imaginative and prescient caught Messi’s consideration. It was the motion of a photographer, getting in for a close-up on the trophy, which was nonetheless standing on its plinth between the dugouts. Messi stole a have a look at it for a few seconds, then went again to finishing up his pre-match duties. By the time they have been accomplished, it had gone once more. You requested your self if that may be as shut as he obtained to the trophy all night time. You weren’t asking your self that for lengthy.
It started properly – maybe too properly – and because it usually has over the previous month, with Messi standing over a penalty. The first World Cup last purpose of his profession was his sixth at this event, two-thirds of them at that time having come from the spot. Even that resembles a triumph of kinds. Penalty-taking has all the time been the one curiously common facet in his magisterial sport, the one space in want of enchancment. He has scored 4 of 5 in Qatar, six of seven together with shoot-outs, comfortably bettering his mediocre profession report.
Yet no person contained in the Lusail or the billions watching worldwide got here to see Messi rating from 12 yards. Had that been all, they might have even left feeling barely quick modified. What they got here for was the purpose that appeared to grab this last, that appeared to have gained it. And regardless that it was the very best workforce purpose to grace this stage since Mexico City in 1970, its excessive level got here from Messi’s left foot, that instrument of grace and sweetness that is equally simply as ruinous and devastating, flicking the ball backwards to set Julian Alvarez away, to Alexis Mac Allister, to Angel di Maria for 2.
Argentina had by no means had it this good and so they had by no means had it this simple. The solely downside was that 120 years of historical past urged it shouldn’t be. For the primary 80 minutes of this last, France put in a listless, abysmal efficiency that was solely rendered much more inexplicable by the powers of resurrection that adopted. Kylian Mbappé is the second man to rating a hat-trick in a World Cup last. He is additionally the primary to accomplish that and lose. The comeback that Didier Deschamps’s aspect produced supplied us with the very best, most dramatic World Cup last in residing reminiscence.
But even that is secondary to the ultimate chapter of considered one of sport’s most compelling tales, the kind that sport not often permits to be written. It was almost even higher. It was almost perfection. For a minute or 10 again there, it appeared as if Messi could be the match-winner, as if the ugliest of his near-century of objectives for Argentina could be the distinction. It wouldn’t. But who gained it was not essential. All that mattered was that they did. Messi took the primary penalty of the shoot-out, as he did within the quarter-final, leaving his destiny, his future and arguably his legacy within the arms of others.
When that interview with a 13-year-old Messi was shared round, many missed arguably essentially the most attention-grabbing elements. As properly because the PE instructor ambition, Messi was requested a number of quick-fire questions about what he desires to obtain in life. His “objective” was to end secondary faculty. His “goal” was to play in Argentina’s first division. His “hope” was to play in it with Newell’s. His “dream” was to play for Argentina. Assuming that he already knew he was pretty respectable at soccer, it was hardly the stuff of Icarus.
And but up to now, he has fallen quick towards nearly each single a kind of measures. Messi by no means completed faculty, being whisked off to La Masia only a few months after giving that interview. He is nonetheless ready for his debut in Argentina’s first division, simply as he nonetheless has not performed for Newell’s. He didn’t grow to be a PE instructor, both. He would obtain essentially the most troublesome of these ambitions, although. He would obtain his dream and play for Argentina.
And after 17 years in worldwide soccer, after the longing and the ready, after the retirements and popping out of retirements, after breaking down within the dressing room after the quarter-final defeat to Germany in 2010, crying, convulsing and wailing at a narrative that appeared doomed to repeat itself, there is finally something new to say. Lionel Messi is a World Cup winner. And perhaps if you happen to requested a 13-year-old Messi, he would say that’s sufficient.