The English commentator can’t contain himself. “He is just brilliant. Georgie Best, Diego Maradona, Johan Cruyff … Incredible little man. He is the best player on the planet.” Lionel Messi, who will be at the center of Diego Maradona’s plans for Argentina’s World Cup plans in South Africa 2010, scored recently for Barcelona against Real Zaragoza, and left the commentator looking for comparisons.
For those who only think of Messi as a dribbler, in this clip from that game he does that and more: he is strong on the ball, dispossesses an opposing player in midfielder, then starts a move, taking on two more players, that ends in a spectacular goal.
The El Pais journalist John Carlin once wrote about Messi: “There is something tail-swishingly devilish about the way Lionel Messi runs with a football; he is as hard to catch as a flea; the speed with which he nips past rival defenders is eye-deceivingly, cartoonishly improbable.”
More Carlin from 2005: “… In person, dressed in regular civilian clothes, off the field, without a ball in sight, Lionel Andrés Messi is not wondrous at all. He is stunningly ordinary. Pale-skinned, thin-lipped and shortish – though the shoulders do show the sinuous evidence of toil at the gym – he turned up for our interview at an anonymous room somewhere in the bowels of the Camp Nou, Barcelona’s giant stadium, dressed in a short-sleeved yellow shirt that he might have borrowed from his dad, blue jeans and white running shoes. No body piercings or tattoos in sight, and a lank head of hair no stylist’s fingers have touched, Messi is the anti-Beckham. He is not a sex symbol; he is a football symbol. On the pitch he is a god; off it, he is one kid more from Rosario, the unglamorous industrial town 200 miles north-west of Buenos Aires where he was born and raised.”
Bring on June.