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April 27, 2011 | by  | in Online Only |
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The 7th Inning Stretch – Lionel Messi

It seems inevitable to me, that one day, Lionel Messi (Leo) will be depicted upon the back of a winged genius that is facilitating his apotheosis.

This may not seem clear, but bare with me. An apotheosis is the raising of a subject to divine level. A winged genius is the personification of a general divine nature that exists in everyone which is depicted in the famous sculpture of the apotheosis of Roman emperor Antoninus Pius. Understand now? Messi will one day become a God.

It would be unfair to assume from this that I have a strong belief in religion and God – because I do not. But how else can you describe someone with the talent that Messi has? And what higher accolade could you afford someone than implying he is some omnipotent and omnibenevolent being. In fact, you’re probably more likely to believe these powers of Messi than you are of God.

It is a pertinent time for such discussion, as Leo just became the first person to ever score 50 goals in a season in all competitions for a Spanish team. Those above him on the all-time season scoring lists are either from before WWII or played in lesser European Leagues. At only age 23, with much of his footballing life ahead of him (dismissing the thought of a horrific career ending injury), he seems well on his way to breaking the Barcelona all-time goal scoring record and a number of other all-time club scoring records.
On the back of his 50 goals, and counting, he is helping to create a legacy with Barcelona FC which may see them considered one of the best club teams ever. Plus they will win another League title this year and potentially another premier European Trophy.

There are some potential barriers to his apotheosis however. To go down as one of the true greats, many would argue that he must attain international success as well as his club successes. The names that resonate with most, even those not remotely interested with football, are Maradona and Pele. An Argentine and Brazilian who are both renowned for being successful club players, but also for their magnificent World Cup wins. Messi however, in his short career to date, has not managed to bring such success to his national team. He still has time to rectify this though, and knowing him, he will.

Another barrier could be Christiano Ronaldo – the other great player of our current generation and the talisman of Messi’s rival Real Madrid. The man who robbed Barcelona of another Copa del Rey victory last week with a magnificent extra-time goal. Although Messi probably has a slight edge on Ronaldo at present, he is another who could go down in history and overshadow the tiny Argentine.

What Messi will always have though, unlike Ronaldo, is solace in the fact that he is not a total douche-bag. The sometimes petulant, always worried about his hair, Christiano Ronaldo, will always take a dive under a soft tackle in order to set up a free-kick or penalty opportunity which represents the dark-side of football. Messi on the other hand, will not cheaply drop to the ground, maintaining his feet as often as possible so that he can score the goal that Ronaldo is obviously not as confident about scoring. A signifier of true greatness.

So will Messi one day fly on the back of a winged being to the divine heights on which he will spend his days basking in Apollo’s light and his own eternal glory? Will he be considered a God by future earthly mortals just as the Roman emperors were? In the future, will the earth only be considered as to have truly existed since after his messianic birth? Only time will tell.

For now, bask in his on-field magnificence, enjoy his deft touch, salute his electrifying speed and make sure you pinch yourself after he scores another goal. You just might think you’re dreaming.

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