Year 2022, May 20.
*Still 19 in my eyes, still 19!*
A sunny day in Barcelona, Spain. Cules all over the city, excited and anxiously waiting for their last La Liga match at Camp Nou for the season. Moreover, they all look sad. The clock is spinning in circle, the time is coming, 60 more minutes until the match starts. Barcelona are on the top of the table with 5+ points, and no matter what the result be, they will be the Champions. The Camp Nou is filled to the limit. People are begging the guards to let them enter. There are hundreds of people outside. What could be the reason?
The line-ups are announced. Both for Barcelona and the other team. Messi is starting, ofcourse. He’s again playing as a playmaker in midfield, leading, like never before. He, as always, wants to give his best, but today he looks confused. He is not running at all. He is sweating a lot, even before the half-time.
It’s half-time now. More than 100,000 people chant Messi’s name while he’s in the locker room. They are roaring aloud, and making waves of Messi’s name. You could hear their roar all the way to Madrid. There are thousands of people outside the stadium chanting his name as well.
Second half starts. Barcelona are comfortably leading. The fans are still chanting Messi’s name. Why? Did he lose his form? Do they want him to score? No, If you could hear the fans one by one, everyone of their voice trembled. 10 minutes left, and the fans are still chanting Messi’s name. The camera is focused only on him. Tears are falling from his eyes. He tries to hold them, unavailingly but couldn’t hold his emotions.
For a moment he stands still on the pitch and looks around him. Looks at the 100,000 people chanting his name. Looks at the Camp Nou. Looks at his teammates. What would be going through his mind? Who knows, he has spent his lifetime here. In this club, with this fans, in this same stadium, this atmosphere, do you even realize why is he crying now? Do you even know why are the fans chanting his name for 90 minutes? No, they’re not tired at all. They would chant it for years from now, and never get tired. They are chanting the name of the Greatest footballer of all time.
The little boy, who gave a new dimension to football, changed it to it’s core. He made the game of football better. He was an example to younger footballers, and everyone loved him watching.
And, it is 3 minutes of added time. Barcelona gets a free-kick opportunity in a dangerous position. Messi is near the ball. Alone. He takes a few steps back. Inhales slowly. There’s nobody else who wants to score this goal more than him. He shoots, and the G.O.A.T scores. The goalkeeper had no chance. He doesn’t run and celebrate, he puts his hands in the air, and bows to the fans. The fans bow to him as well. They are giving him the best farewell that anyone could ever imagine.
The match is over. Barcelona are the Champions. Captain Messi is going to lift his last trophy in his career. The fans are all trembling. He should give a speech. But he is shaking. He has tears all over his face. The fans are still chanting his name, few minutes later, they stop.
Messi is trying to speak. As he speaks, tears roll down his eyes. He knows that this is probably the best day in his career. He calms a bit, and keeps speaking. He can’t thank enough. None of them. Nor the fans or the club. But this day had to come, everyone knew that. Some were prepared, and some were not. What is good, that people will talk about this great man not only for years to come but for eternity. This man has changed the game of football. He deserved to be called as the ‘GOAT’.
He leaves us with a great example. To stay humble and focus on your team. He never cared about individual awards, and always wanted his team to win trophies. He succeeded in that and made Barcelona, the club with most trophies, in the history of football. This is his greatness.
Everyone will miss him, now and for a long time. But life goes on. We should be thankful that we lived in his era. In the era of the ‘Lionel Messi’. The greatest footballer ever born.