The argument that a player cannot be considered great until he claims a World Cup winner’s medal is rendered nonsense by the portfolios of Ferenc Puskas, Alfredo di Stéfano, Johan Cruyff and George Best. Tell me they couldn’t play, that they did not redefine the parameters of the game. Greatness is not measured in silverware but in the memory.
Just one of several bits in that piece that reminds you of the on again, off again argument whether Sachin can really be called the greatest, without a World Cup to his name. There are other bits in the Messi piece that reminds you of SRT. Like, so:
His diminutive, beautifully balanced frame benefits from a low centre of gravity that affords acute changes in direction and keeps him upright when the big lads pile in. For an anatomically challenged male he is not without strength. These are the technical elements.
Messi has another dimension that is harder to measure. His awareness and understanding of space is preternatural; he is Pythagoras with a paint brush, all angles and vision.
And then there is the primal hunger that drives him, and the courage to take a chance.
This places him alongside the likes of Tiger Woods, Michael Schumacher, Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, athletes whose desire to win can be considered a pathology, a kind of insanity, a life dedicated to nothing but balls, spikes, water and wheels. At least Messi’s obsession has not put a scowl on his face.
Read on. And watch: