Jerome Boateng had nightmares after his encounter with Messi in 2015. Barcelona crushed Bayern Munich in the Champions League. Messi was the star of the show and he tore Boateng apart with his devastating skill. Boateng was an elite defender but he couldn’t handle Messi’s brilliance (via The Mirror).
There was one moment that saw him put Boateng on his backside. The German international didn’t know what was happening and lay there with a hapless expression on his face. This is what the best players can do when they’re at the top of their games. Messi also embarrassed Manuel Neuer in the match.
It appeared as though Messi had given up on his international career after retiring in 2016. That decision came after a traumatic Copa America final against Chile. Messi missed a crucial penalty as Argentina lost the game. He received a lot of vitriol from his countrymen after the defeat (via TalkSport).
But he retracted his decision after a couple of months. His passion and agony meant that he made a spontaneous decision. Messi regretted this and that’s a good thing because his return was worthwhile. It meant that he experienced some of the most iconic moments of his legendary career.
2012 saw Messi produce the most scorching goalscoring year of his legendary career. He scored 91 goals for club and country as it appeared that he couldn’t miss. The Argentine forward also scored 73 goals in 60 games across the 2011/12 season. This saw the 24-year-old seal his status as the best player on the planet.
The prolific forward became the main man at Barcelona. David Villa sacrificed a lot as he gave Messi many opportunities. Meanwhile, Pep Guardiola allowed him to occupy a nebulous role. That’s the smartest decision for a coach when they’ve got top talent in their roster (via The Analyst).
Maradona was one of Argentina’s greatest players but he wasn’t as prolific as Messi. He scored 29 goals in 80 games for the Albicileste. Perhaps if he took less cocaine and looked after his body he might have scored more. Messi is Argentina’s record goalscorer with a stunning 98 goals (via GOAL).
However, Gabriel Batistuta holds one record over Messi. He has a higher scoring average with 55 goals in 78 games. Meanwhile, Maradona’s son-in-law, Sergio Aguero is third on the list with 41. Argentina had some tremendous forwards across the years. But it will be a challenge to replace Messi after he ends his legendary career.
Barcelona enjoyed several dominant victories over Real Madrid with Messi in their ranks. He drove them to a higher level and inspired them to some of the most exciting wins in their history. Beating Madrid is always special but their 6-2 2009 win was fascinating for several reasons (via Bleacher Report).
Pep Guardiola revolutionized soccer by placing Messi as the false nine. This meant that he wasn’t as direct as a striker but more forward than an attacking midfielder. It was a unique cerebral role that allowed Messi to use his technical nous. This crushing win was a great moment for Barca fans.
Barcelona didn’t even want to allow Messi to compete in the Olympics. It took Pep Guardiola’s intervention for them to release their young star. Messi even described his gold medal win as the most important victory of his legendary career. That’s because he knew he only had a single opportunity to win this prize.
Messi was brilliant throughout the tournament as he scored and created goals for Argentina. They met Nigeria in the final and the media projected them to be strong favorites. But the Super Eagles refused to back down and held strong. Messi’s scintillating skill was the difference in the end (via Olympics.com).
It may seem crazy to include a 5-0 victory when Messi didn’t score. Nonetheless, he had a brilliant game against Madrid. He pulled their defenders all over the field and dissected them like a biologist. Meanwhile, he had an iconic moment when he walked past Sergio Ramos at the end of the game.
Ramos received a red card after he hacked Messi in injury time. This caused a ruckus between the two teams and the referee intervened. But Messi didn’t allow this to bother him. Commentators called this one of the coldest moments in sports history after he strolled past Ramos with his head held high (via Bleacher Report).
Messi won the World Cup in 2022 but that wasn’t the only remarkable aspect of his tournament. He set and broke many records along the way as one of the tournament’s greatest players. One of these saw him become the first player to score in each round of the same campaign. It was a fantastic stat that’s typical of his legendary career (via ESPN).
Kylian Mbappe was the Golden Boot winner and threatened to steal Messi’s thunder. His bravery and amazing talent inspired France into extra time in the final. But Messi is one of the top clutch players ever and proved this in the shootout. He calmly chipped the ball to Hugo Lloris’s left and the rest is history.
Every striker dreams of scoring a hat trick and bringing home the game ball. Unsurprisingly, Messi has many hat tricks to his name but this particular example was very special. Amazingly, he scored all three goals for Barcelona in a draw against Real Madrid. He was 19 at the time and lit up the game.
Madrid took the lead three times in the game but Messi pulled Barcelona level without fail. It was very dramatic because it required him to perform in a clutch situation. This is typical of his legendary career because he pulls his teams out of bad situations. Even the young Messi was amazing at this (via Sport Bible).
No player in history has more Ballon D’or wins than Messi. He claimed the prize a record seven times as he left Ronaldo trailing in his wake. The pair dominated the coveted prize for over a decade. It even appeared that Ronaldo could usurp Messi but he fell short. The Portuguese striker has five trophies to his name (via Sporting News).
One of the most remarkable aspects of Messi’s seven victories is his consistent brilliance. His first one came in 2007 while his final Ballon D’Or arrived in 2021. There are issues with this award because offensive players receive a disproportionate number of votes. But his longevity is amazing and deserves immense credit.
After this game, Sir. Alex Ferguson described Barcelona as the best team he ever coached again. This was high praise from the legendary Manchester United manager after his team lost the Champions League Final. They had high hopes of beating the Spanish team on home soil in Wembley but couldn’t compete.
Messi produced a masterclass against United as he continuously ripped them apart. He scored a goal against them but this was the cherry on top of his sensational performance. It was one of the most complete displays of his legendary career. This was the type of game that players dream of (via Bleacher Report).
Many Argentines felt that Messi didn’t belong in the same category as Diego Maradona. That’s because he didn’t enjoy any international success with the national team. He retired because of the pressure and exhaustion that he felt from representing them without winning anything.
However, Messi returned and won Copa America in 2021. Argentina won South America’s biggest international event in the home of their arch rival Brazil. It was also Messi’s 10th major tournament with his nation and changed his status there. It made him a diehard favorite at home for the first time in his legendary career (via BBC).
Finally, Messi won the World Cup in Qatar in 2022. There was a lot of pre-tournament focus on him because everybody expected that it would be the 34-year-old’s final international event. Many analysts predicted that Argentina would be a contender but soccer rarely produces a fairytale ending.
But Messi was central to his nation’s run to the final against France. He became the first player to score in every round of a single World Cup. Meanwhile, he helped inspire Argentina in one of the most frantic and exciting finals ever. Then he slotted away a cool penalty kick in the decisive shootout (via Daily Mirror).