Lionel Messi confirms retirement: It takes the sheer brilliance of athletes in the likes of Lionel Messi, Christiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappé and Luka Modric among others, to take away the limelight from the grave human rights violation of Qatar and its blood-soaked World Cup. This year’s World Cup was full of surprising results with Morocco leading the charge. However, its gritty run finally ended in the Semis against the accomplished French side. But now that the game has entered into its last stage, all eyes will be on the high voltage final.
The decisive match will be played between the reigning champion France against the resolute ‘Champion of the World’ Messi and his squad. But whatever be the result, millions, if not billions, of football fans will be teary eyed as it would be the last mesmerising performance of the little master Lionel Messi.
Lionel Messi confirms retirement: A dream run comes to an end
Argentina’s skipper Lionel Messi will be donning the Albiceleste (blue-white) jersey for the last time on 18th of December 2022. Reportedly, the ace striker Lionel Messi has himself confirmed retirement that the World Cup final match against France will be his last international outing.
Speaking to Argentine media, Lionel Messi confirms retirement and said, “I feel very happy to be able to achieve this, to finish my World Cup journey by playing my last game in a final. It’s many years for the next one (World Cup) and I don’t think I’ll be able to do it. And to finish like this, it’s the best.”
In the ongoing FIFA World Cup, Messi is the joint lead scorer with five goals and several crucial assists. With the 5th goal, Messi also surpassed Gabriel Batistuta as the leading World Cup scorer in World Cups, with overall 11 goals.
Now, he is just a step away from fructifying his childhood dream of lifting the World Cup. Last time, his team had failed to capitalise on the crucial stage and lost the 2014 World Cup final to Germany.
The 35-year-old Argentine is playing his fifth World Cup. He has surpassed the record of Diego Maradona and Javier Mascherano who had appeared in four different World Cups. Additionally, by stepping on the field against France, Messi will set a new world record. It will be Messi’s 26th World Cup match, the most by any player in the Football World Cups.
Flight from the streets of Santa Fe to Barcelona
Messi picked up his love for football at a very young age. In the streets of Rosario, Santa Fe, young Leo played the game with his brothers, Rodrigo and Matías, and cousins, Maximiliano and Emanuel Biancucchi – they too became professional footballers. At the age of four, Messi’s father started to train him in the skills of the game. But it was his maternal grandmother, Celia, who had a deep impact on him. She always used to accompany him to training and matches.
When Lionel Messi was just 11 years of age, his grandmother passed away. Being a religious person, Messi has been commemorating her after all his goals. Notably, his signature celebration by looking up and pointing to the sky is his way of tribute to his grandmother.
Growing up, Messi played six years for the Newell’s Old Boys where he was literally a goal machine scoring almost 500 goals. However, his professional career came under threat when he was just 10 years of age. The football prodigy was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency.
His family faced financial troubles in affording the costly treatment and got dejections from all sides. Finally, his relatives arranged a chance to train and play for Spanish club Barcelona. After a little dilly-dallying, team director Charly Rexach offered a contract on a paper napkin. Later, his family relocated to Barcelona.
From Prodigy to the GOAT
The initial period with Barcelona and in Spain was full of hiccups for Messi. His transfer conflict with Newell’s couldn’t allow him to play in full-fledged matches. Moreover, his reserve nature was such that his teammates initially believed he was mute.
At the age of 14, Messi completed his growth hormone treatment and became an integral part of the “Baby Dream Team”. It is claimed as Barcelona’s greatest-ever youth side. After that, there was no looking back for Messi.
In 2004, Messi made his competitive debut for Barcelona when he was 17. Within the span of just three years, Messi became an integral player for the club. In the 2008–09 season, Messi helped his club achieve the first treble in Spanish football. By then, he was 22 and lifted his first Ballon d’Or. Later, his dream run continued and he won four consecutive Ballons d’Or, thus setting a new record of most amount of Ballon d’Or.
There are certain rivalries that have taken the sport to new heights, be it the rivalry of a trio in tennis – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadale and Novac Djokovic or Christiano Ronaldo and Messi in football. The real show of this rivalry redefined and gave a new meaning to El-clasico – Real Madrid vs Barcelona.
After losing back-to-back Ballon d’Or to Ronaldo, Messi regained his best form in 2014-15. He became the all-time top scorer in La Liga and led his club Barcelona to a historic second treble. That year, he lifted the Ballon d’Or trophy for the fifth time.
The prolific goal scorer and creative playmaker assumed Barcelona’s captaincy in 2018. A year later, Messi made a new record when he won a record sixth Ballon d’Or.
His association with Barcelona ended in 2021 and signed a contract with Paris Saint-Germain (PSG). Till then, he had won a club-record 35 trophies, including 10 La Liga titles, seven Copa del Rey titles and four UEFA Champions Leagues.
The ace forward, Messi is a goal machine in a real sense. He holds several records including most goals in La Liga (474) and most hat-tricks in La Liga (36) among others. The list of records in his name is inexhaustive.
Growing up as a fan of Ronaldo, over the decades, Messi has created a magic of his own. His sheer brilliant style of turning the game on its head is unparalleled and puts him in the league of GOATs (Greatest Of All Time), if not the real GOAT.
Most of the Sporting fans in India grew up hearing the legendary tales of Major Dhyan Chandra’s dribbling skills. But all the football fans can shout at top of their voice that they have seen the great, little master Lionel Messi traversing the yards of the football field outsmarting the opposition side at will.
There was no better player who could pull the game so smoothly as Messi does and all eyes will be on him when he will enter the international pitch for the last time on 18th of December. The entirety of football world will witness history in the making when Messi dribbles the ball past French defenders with his short but smart strides, to let the Football kiss the nets.
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