After years of the media insisting on trying to compare Messi and Ronaldo, it is now time to simply enjoy the performances that both world-class stars are capable of delivering week in, week out
As it couldn’t be any different, Lionel Messi was presented with the UEFA Best Player Award in the Champions League draw ceremony held in Monaco in front of the eyes of the most important names in world football.
While La Pulga’s stellar performances in last season’s European Cup were head and shoulders above any other footballer in the biggest club competition in the world, few would have predicted that the little Argentinean genius would win the award with a whopping 91% of the votes.
Messi’s 49 votes dwarfed the mere two collected by Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, in what can be interpreted as a triumph of the player who was better at prioritising the team’s achievements to his own in the previous season. Once again, the No.10 proved that individual recognition can only be achieved if the individual's leadership helps the team as whole excel on the pitch and, most importantly, conquer valuable silverware.
Messi’s 49 votes dwarfed the two collected by Cristiano Ronaldo, in what can be interpreted as a triumph of the player who was better at prioritising the team’s achievements to his own in the previous season.
After years of the media insisting on trying to compare the paths of Messi and Ronaldo, however, it is perhaps now time to take a step a back and simply enjoy the performances that both world-class stars are capable of delivering week in, week out. Ultimately, the record-breaking careers of both stars are impressive enough to be celebrated on isolation and constant comparison actually takes away from the fact that we are fortunate to witness history being re-written on a daily basis.
If the once-in-a-life-time talent that is Messi can churn out a jaw-dropping 43 goals in domestic league campaign, that should be celebrated in its own right. The inherent need that most pundits feel of blurting a: “Sure, but that is five less than Ronaldo!”, while good for pub banter, is becoming less and less relevant by the minute.
Only those touched by a magic wand can find the net over 40 times per season, every single season. Both Cules and Madridistas should stop rubbishing the achievements of the rivals’ star player and simply enjoy their brilliance while it lasts.
Put it this way: If Real Madrid had won last year's Champions League, their fans would not care about the number of goals scored by Ronaldo, Gareth Bale or even Alvaro Arbeloa in order to get to the title. They would only pay attention to making sure there was enough room in the Santiago Bernabeu museum to place the trophy, even if the collective win would have probably also brought Ronaldo some individual award along the way.
The most successful La Masia graduate has matured into an ambitious, demanding yet nurturing leader who not only accepts, but enjoys delegating some of the responsibility that comes with stardom.
Fortunately for Cules, we have our very own Messi. The most successful La Masia graduate has matured into an ambitious, demanding yet nurturing leader who not only accepts, but enjoys delegating some of the responsibility that comes with stardom. Had the No.10 been more reluctant to ease Neymar or Suarez into the Blaugrana dressing room dynamics, the Camp Nou giants would have completed yet another high-drama, trophyless season instead of celebrating a historical treble.
In football, as in life, it is those who can excel under the spotlight while bringing others along that end up succeeding. Fortunately, Barça’s best ever player has grown into the leader others can only dream of becoming one day and Cules should be forever grateful for his talent, dedication and love for the Blaugrana colours.
However, the Camp Nou faithful must also remember that, while Messi is undoubtedly the star of the show, it is his ability to work towards the common goal that truly matters.
Grande, Leo! Grande, Barça!