The game of football has been blessed with immense talents like Maradona, Pele, Gerd Muller, Rivaldo, to name just a few. While these players have long been at the top of the perch, some players in the modern generation like Beckham, Ronaldinho, Kaka, among others, have joined this elite category. However, two players in modern football are touted as being the Greatest of All Time or in modern lingo, G.O.A.T. All of us know who I'm talking about, but today we're going to talk about one of them in particular - the Argentine wizard, Lionel Messi. Lovingly referred to as "La Pulga" or "La Pulga Atomica" by his fans, it translates to Atomic Flea in English. This is pretty indicative of Leo's 5'7" posture buzzing through and terrorizing defenses' world over. But is he really the greatest EVER? Let's take a look.
The story starts in Rosario, Argentina, where a little Leo was born to a middle-class family. Messi's father worked in the steel factory, while his mother was a cleaner. The young Argentine took a keen interest in football since his early days but was unfortunately diagnosed with Growth Hormone Deficiency (G.H.D.) at the age of 11. This required expensive medicines and equipment for his treatment, including the use of Human Growth Hormone.
Leo impressed the bosses and scouts of his boyhood club, River Plate, but they weren't willing to pay for his treatment. As they say, one man's loss is another man's gain. This paved the iconic move for a 13-year old Messi to Barcelona, who were so impressed with the boy that they offered to pay for his full treatment. Carles Rexach, then coach of Barcelona, even offered Messi his first contract on a piece of a paper napkin! As the saying goes, the rest is history.
The 33-year old Argentine has 6 Ballon D'Ors, 704 goals, 298 assists, 32 trophy haul including 9 La Liga's, 4 Champions League's, and individual accolades like 5 European Golden Boots to his name. What seals the deal was his photoshoot with a couple of goats shot by the incredible Carles Carabi (http://www.carlescarabi.com/g-o-a-t-leo-messi-paper-magazine). Pretty suggestive, huh? The suggestions, however, aren't dumbfounded. The boy from Rosario is the beautiful game's best finisher, creator, and mover. Messi's vision is second to none, and this lays a foundation on which he can dominate proceedings from any part on the pitch.
As Cristiano Ronaldo pointed out at an awards ceremony, no two players other than himself and the Argentine have been at the top of the game for such an elaborate period of time, to put it mildly. Even compared to legends like Zidane, Platini, Beckenbauer, to name a few, the best two footballers of our generation are a league beyond. Purely based on how long they've kept the crown amongst themselves – with only Luka Modric to deny them once in 13 years! The debate as to who may be the greatest amongst them will rage on, but we can all agree and acknowledge how lucky we are to be a generation of football fans to watch Ronaldo and Messi ply their trade.
Everything in football, like in life, is incomparable. Back in the days, players did not have access to equipment and ground facilities that we have today, but that does not necessarily mean they will fare better coming against more agile and athletic footballers of today. Leo is 33, while Ronaldo is a few years older at 35. I think we should put this debate of G.O.A.T. to the side – at least for their last mile because the only certainty in all of this is that Messi and Ronaldo's football extravaganza will not be repeated for a long long time to come. Enjoy it while it lasts!