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20th Dec 2022

A look back on Lionel Messi’s most important goal for Argentina ever

Lee Costello

Messi Goal

It wasn’t either of the two he scored in the final.

Lionel Messi scored the most important goal of his illustrious international career at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, but it wasn’t either of the two he scored against France in the final.

‘Recency bias’ is a powerful thing, and when you initially look at back at this whirlwind of a World Cup, the images of Argentina playing wonderful football, scoring lots of goals, and Messi at his scintillating best are fresh in the memory.

However, when you scratch the surface just a little bit, it was actually only a few short weeks ago that the magic number 10 was deemed to be past his best, and his country were doomed for failure at this competition.

Messi Goal

A shocking 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia in the opening game meant that Argentina went from being one of the favourites of the competition, to most likely to flop.

Then came a woeful first half display against Mexico in the next game, where not only did the team look well below anything that could lift the World Cup, but Messi had aged right in front of our eyes.

The PSG star looked slow, off-beat, and completely out of sync. He misplaced passes, he walked more than he ran, and when he skied a free kick over the bar, the final chapter of a legendary career looked destined to have an anti-climatic finish.

Messi Goal

Gary Neville said on ITV that “people don’t fear Messi anymore” and along with Joe Cole, went on to quote legendary boxer Marvin Hagler who once said that “It’s hard to get out of bed to go running when you sleep in silk pyjamas.”

Arguably the greatest footballer of all time was accused of lacking motivation, and his leadership skills were being questioned.

No trophy hoisting glory, no swan song, no iconic moments, no fairytale ending, and the tag of ‘never won a World Cup’ will be tattooed on his career forever – just a couple of weeks ago, this was set in stone, and the world could see nothing other than another failure on the biggest stage of all.

Messi Goal

Things look darkest before dawn however, and Di Maria, another ageing star who was under heavy scrutiny for recent performances, drilled the ball to the path of Messi just outside the box, and with only a little bit of space to manoeuvre his feet, the little genius swung his left foot, and fired his country, his legacy, and his nation’s dream back into life.

Argentina’s World Cup aspirations and Messi’s crowning achievement were laying flatlined on the emergency room table before the captain’s goal jump-started the heart of a dead dream back into working order.

Messi Goal

After that ball hit the back of the net, the team got stronger after every game, they improved as the tournament progressed, defenders not only feared Messi once again, they were petrified of him, and the secret flux capacitor in his boot reeled back the years to his prime.

Pundits, fans, and weird Ronaldo-obsessives still can’t eat another bite after being forced to swallow all of their bitter words of doubt.

Messi Goal

The team were completely rejuvenated, and soon the flickering hope of a fading ambition had snowballed into a roaring fire that refused to be put out.

It only took a moment for the former Barcelona star to make contact with that ball before it hit the back of the Mexico net, but moments become history, and history-makers become immortal.

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