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Soup of This Day #148: Feet Don’t Hardly Make No Sound

March 9, 2012

Lionel Messi
Copa América 2007. Some guy who plays for Argentina – Photo: nica, 2007. nica is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

When I was young I started developing a football daydream. I worked on it over the years until I had it down pat in my head. I’d be playing for Liverpool or Australia and we’d be up 3-2 over Manchester United or Germany.

As the clock ticked down towards 90 minutes I’d take the ball on the wing and nutmeg my 1st opponent, leaving him stationary as I glided on effortlessly down the touchline. The 2nd defender I’d skin, sending him 1 way before smoothly rounding him via a gap that nobody else could have envisaged was there. For the 3rd defender I stepped it up a notch, flicking the ball up from behind me and over the slack-jawed statue to my front. I’d breeze past like a zephyr, coolly collecting the ball with my right foot on the other side.

By now I’d just crossed the half-way line. A 4th defender was closing from the side but a quick glance up showed the keeper was 3m off his line. It was enough and so I’d launch a shot at goal.

On the volley.

It was not your regular lobbed effort from a long way out. It was a flat, scorching drive that dipped at the last second before cannoning off the underside of the bar and down into the turf a full metre behind the goal-line.

This was my football dream.

Sure, it couldn’t come true. For a start I’ve never got close to playing for Liverpool or Australia and to be honest I haven’t even been able to mimic the skills required via the Playstation. I’ve tried many times. 1 night after numerous attempts I’m almost certain the Fifa 2004 sprite turned to me and said:

‘Give it a rest mate, it’s just not possible.’

I may have been drunk.

So my dream is unattainable. And I was ok with that because nobody else was going to get close to replicating it either. Nobody could play like I dreamed.

I had similar mental films covering other sports too. None were as developed as my football epic but they were good. Sadly they got wiped out by reality and occasionally by a player who transcended what I could conger up in my head.

Michael Jordan was 1 of those guys. He did stuff on the basketball court that surpassed what I imagined – He jumped… no, he flew and those buzzer beaters, they just got repetitive but in a good way. You could set your clock by MJ in a clutch situation – He’s got the ball and is shooting so there must be 0.7 seconds left before time gets called.

Jordan made catching NBA basketball something worthwhile even if it wasn’t your thing. I didn’t like the NBA. Still don’t. The showmanship stuff is too much and that strike @#$% is just not me. But MJ made it something to watch.

Last night Lionel Messi scored 5 goals for Barcelona against Bayer Leverkusen in a Champions League knock-out tie. None of the 5 goals were as good as my dream but they were pretty special. If you get a chance take a look at them – My personal favourite is the 3rd when he lobs the keeper from a stupidly short distance – He physically shouldn’t be able to get the ball up and over the keeper and then down again before the goal-mouth shows up. But he does and he lobs the keeper.

For the 2nd time in the game.

You might be thinking that 5 goals in a match is not that impressive – You see stories in your local paper of little Jimmy or Jessica scoring 15 goals in 1 half and he or she is 2 years younger than their opponents and all. Except this was in a CL game. Nobody has scored 5 in a CL game before. Santi Giménez, writing in the Spanish sports newspaper AS tried to frame it in some perspective:

‘This was like Chamberlain getting 100 points in a game, Ali knocking out Liston, Beamon flying in Mexico.’

Whatever the comparison it was Messi’s 1st 5 goal haul as a professional in the big time. He’d previously managed 2 4-goal efforts and 14 hat-tricks but never a hand of goals. He now has 47 goals for the season, on track for perhaps 70, a stupendous number at the highest level. He has 49 goals in Europe in total, just 7 short of the record as a Barca player and overall he has 228 goals to his credit.

At 24 years of age.

Like Jordan was for the NBA, Lionel Messi is for football. Yeah, I know – You’re not into football because of all that stuff like the crowd trouble and the diving. The thing is though, Messi is the antidote to those things.

For 1, nobody who watches this guy ends up hating him. You can’t. His football is irrepressible – Opposing fans forget their differences and just watch. You’ll wind up with sworn enemies sitting there, 1 saying to the other, ‘Did he just? Wow.’ And the other will just nod and go, ‘Yep, he did. Wow.’

For 2, Messi doesn’t dive. Yep, that’s right Lionel Messi doesn’t fall to the ground, rolling round like he’s been gunned down at the merest suggestion of a touch. Watch this video:

At times he’s like the liquid mercury T-1000 in Terminator 2.

He just keeps going. His revenge for you trying to break his leg is to make you look like an absolute goose while he scores a goal. Or many. You’re left with the feeling that this guy thinks that scoring from a penalty would be inelegant. Just plain wrong even.

They reckon others have played like that too – Not in my lifetime that I’ve seen. Maybe Pele did – I was too young to catch even the tail-end of his career. Some will argue that Maradonna is up there and yeah he’s got some big plays to showcase his talent, most famously at the 1986 World Cup. Others will nominate Zinedine Zidane, who captained France to it’s 1st and only World Cup trophy.

But Maradonna cheated, his brilliant quarter-final goal against England overshadowed by the ‘Hand of God’ incident in the same match of the 1986 World Cup. In 1994 he failed a drug test.

Zidane meanwhile followed up his 2 goal effort to steer Les Bleus to glory in 1998 with a sending off in the corresponding 2006 fixture after he head-butted Marco Materazzi because the Italian said stuff about his sister.

Messi is better than both – He’s scored goals the equal of Diego, in fact he’s notched 1 already that is scarily reminiscent of Maradonna’s legitimate strike in 86. He did so without having to punch the ball into the net as well. And if you insulted his sister he’d just score a goal or 5 and then take your sister out for dinner.

He’d treat her right and bring her home on time too.

Lionel Messi plays football like it should be played. He plays it like I dreamed. Oh for sure he hasn’t replicated my dream exactly but he bloody well could. It’s just a matter of time and since he’s young he’s got that on his side too.

And I’d be upset about that except I can’t hate him either. You see, he did just do that and wow.

Just wow.

Feet Don’t Hardly Make No Sound

3 Comments
  1. Now I know why conversation has really ramped up about Messi being the best ever. I am one who is very impressed with five goals in a game…I’m more impressed how young he is and what the future will bring.

    • It promises to be some story – On the conversation front, I’ve never read this many experts unequivocally calling someone other than Pele or Maradonna the best. Which just reaffirms what you see when you watch the kid play.

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