When our heads bow in collective devotion and our spirits unite in hope, time and again, we've found our prayers answered with one swivel of a left-foot shaped wand, from a magisterial number 10.
Lionel Messi, you are a footballing God.
I remember you, barely 17 and running down the Nou Camp, fearlessness on your breath, as if you owned the place. Years later, the same pitch is holy land, us mere mortals joining in pilgrimage, to see the place where a kid from Rosario with a growth hormone deficiency, rose and became more than human.
Dad tells me about Diego Maradona, the only man who has ever been able to take a nation to glory, single handedly. He weeps when he talks about him. And I, like endless others, will have goosebumps spread across our skins, thinking about you, changing footballing timelines with one run after another, down the right channel of a football field.
Today, I see critics. I see people talking about how you'll never be the greatest because of the one trophy that eludes you. Without a world cup, they say, Lionel Messi will only be a pretender. After a couple of lackluster performances, your nation stands at the edge of oblivion. When you take the pitch against Nigeria, it will be to save the hopes of a legion of fanactics who live and breathe in your name. It will be to remind the world of your mercurial abilities. To prove all over again that Gods don't bow even when their heads are bloodied beyond recognition.
But it doesn't matter, if you don't win the World Cup. Day after day, we stand dumbfounded at your unadulterated genius. We believe in magic, because you make us. And no matter how many skies fall from here on, when all of it settles, generation after generation will remember you, as the greatest man to have ever played this game. Your game.
Happy Birthday, Lionel. Words can never explain what you are to us.
The victory of Nigeria against Iceland made Argentina believe again 🇦🇷
Now Argentina has to win against Nigeria to have a chance of going through 💪
Do you think changing Caballero for Franco Armani would be a good move from Sampaoli? 📸 @gabrielrossi.ph