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17 de julio de 2019 17/07/19

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The unbearable lightness of Leo Messi


27 de junio de 2016 Elías Israel - Sportyou

Leo Messi has had enough of crying. After another final in which he ended up on the losing side with Argentina, after another missed penalty against Chile, hollowed out in a footballing sense, with no explanation beyond nothingness, he stood in front of the microphones and told the whole world that his time with the Albiceleste team was up, that the frustration was impossible for him to bear. He is done.

It is impossible to decode the history of Messi with his country and his national team without going more deeply into the lack of understanding for the boy from Rosario, who had problems to get across the idea that, way beyond his football, there was a deeply Argentinian feeling. For someone as reserved as Leo, it was harder for him than anything else to bare his roots and show that his blood ran sky blue and white. While the whole world was admiring him, Argentina was suspicious. It wasn’t about winning games, it was about winning people over.

The unfair backdrop to all this was the neverending comparison with Maradona. The problem with that is that it was not a comparison just in a football sense. He was never going to be able to reach the magnitude of ‘Diego’ in the popular imagination, in the socio-political context, in the historic moment.

After being acquitted, thanks to an uncountable number of exhibitions in the Barcelona, winning titles and Ballons d’Or, Messi ran into the brick wall of a curse that he was not expecting, a stigma that has stalked him, one that appeared in all its harshness in a World Cup final and again yesterday in the latest lost final in the Copa América. Messi, more than missing a vital penalty, feels he has let his whole world down, and that the problem is him. He has taken the decision to stand aside and he doesn’t look like the sort of man who will change his mind easily. For one who is such a winner, and so Argentinian, more than a drama, it is a stigma.

For those of us who admire him so deeply, because of what he does, what he puts up with, what he represents, for his football, him giving up is the only defeat we will find it hard to comprehend. His story with the Argentina national team cannot finish the way it began, in the midst of a confused falling out.

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