Lionel Messi — 10 Goals That Were Too Good for His Age
But [Lionel] Messi is best appreciated, [Pep Guardiola, the former manager of Barcelona] admonished, in the virtuosity of the moment, not against the backdrop of history and statistics. Soccer, like figure skating, demands art as much as sport. This is not baseball, where numbers mean so much that they seem to carry a moral weight. Soccer’s beauty is that it surpasses mathematics, or, in Barcelona’s case, conjures a sublime human geometry of triangular passing and movement.
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As Guardiola said, Messi, at age 25, must be watched to be fully appreciated. To be wholly valued for his vision and anticipation and enthusiasm and ruthlessness and humility. For the way he chips a shot over a goalkeeper as if his foot were a sand wedge. For the way he dribbles in tight spaces, the ball bound to him like an electron bound to an atom.
The goals must be seen, and just as important, they must also be heard. For it is the excitable voices of the announcers that best convey Messi’s triumph over the parsimony of soccer. It surrenders so few goals to most others and so many to him. Only one response is appropriate, “Gooooooooooooal,” a prolonged, shrieking exhalation that takes the breath away.
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