A MESSI END
As a football spectacle, there is no doubt that the Qatar World Cup threw up its fair share of shocks and at the end provided one of the most dramatic finals ever.
Kylian Mbappe is unlikely to score a hat trick again and end up on the losing side. It was the first hat trick in a World Cup final since Sir Geoff Hurst in 1966. However, now and forever this final will be all about the little magician that is Lionel Messi. He is one of the all-time greats and after a glittering career populated by all the top club trophies this is the icing on the cake that will get Messi mentioned in the same breath as Pele and Maradona.
The welcome the Argentina players will receive back in Buenos Aires will be something special and who would have thought this would have been the outcome after one of the biggest shocks in the competition’s history when they lost their opening game to Saudi Arabia.
Watching the mass ranks of the Argentinian fans celebrate their success I couldn’t help but think what might have been with England. I hope the England players were thinking that way also. I know fans are divided on the manager, but I really believe we are not that far away from winning our first major trophy since 1966 and I was delighted to see Gareth Southgate commit to another two years and to lead us to Euro 2024. The women’s team have shown the way with their Euro 2022 success and they may well add the World Cup to that next summer.
In any World Cup year, players and fans alike would now be looking forward to a holiday and a break from football but instead domestic football will now re-start and be in full swing by Boxing Day when attendances are generally higher than usual. It will be interesting to see how those players who took part in the World Cup fare in the second half of the season. There were 6 Premier League players in the Argentina squad (Lisandro Martinez and Alejandro Garnacho at Manchester United, Emiliano Buendia and Emiliano Martinez at Aston Villa, Cristian Romero at Tottenham, and Alexis Mac Allister at Brighton) and I would imagine it will take them some time for them to come down from the high they are on.
I really hope that in the coming months that the latest idea from FIFA of a new Club World Cup is despatched to the waste paper bin. Endless international competition puts both a physical and mental strain on the top players and it is time that they featured in FIFA’s thinking rather than them constantly focusing only on building their wealth.
That is for the future but for now let’s be grateful we witnessed the ultimate triumph of one of the greatest players ever to set foot on a football pitch!