by Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (July 13th 2014)
Thrust upon Them
Make no mistake about this, Lionel Messi will go down in history as one of the greatest footballers ever to grace the beautiful game. That will happen whether he wins the World Cup or not. Johan Cruijff, Alfredo di Stéfano, Ferenc Puskás, Eusébio, Valentino and Alessandro Mazzola and many others never won the World Cup.
Does that mean they were not great players? Only to fools who know nothing about football. Nobody with any football knowledge would put Stéphane Guivarcʼh on the same plane as those mentioned above, even though he won the World Cup and they did not.
Messiʼs legacy – win or lose today – is far from complete. Diego Maradona is credited with lifting a mediocre team on his shoulders all the way to glory in 1986. It certainly wasnʼt the greatest team ever to win the World Cup, but the supporting cast was contained some talented players too.
Jorge Valdano went on to play for Real Madrid and demonstrate administrative skills too. The former record holder for most caps for his country Oscar Ruggeri organised the defence. Ruggeri is recognised as the cog that made Argentinaʼs defence tick.
Former World Cup-winning captain Daniel Passarella, albeit an ageing Passarella, was in the squad too and Jorge Burruchaga was part of that team. Burruchaga tasted the delight of scoring in the World Cup Final and the shame of a ban for agreeing to a bribe in the infamous Valenciennes/Olympique Marseilles scandal, even though he never actually took the bribe.
While Maradona didnʼt have to do it alone – he had an impressive five goals and five assists – Messi has a higher calibre of team-mate. Gonzalo Higuaín, Sergio Agüero, Javier Mascherano and Ángel di Maria to name but a few.
Messi is an exceptional talent – one of the greatest ever. Win or lose tonight, he still will be. However, winning the World Cup at the Estádio do Maracanã will make the entire team, especially national heroes and eclipse the horror of the Maracanazo with an even greater pain than Uruguay inflicted on Brasil 64 years ago or even the 7-1 humiliation by Germany in Belo Horizonte.