In medieval times musician storytellers called minstrels would travel the realms performing songs whose lyrics told stories about far off lands, events real and imaginary and of the exploits of legendary heroes. Ray Hudson, GolTV's La Liga commentator, is a modern day minstrel and his muse is Lionel Messi.
Every week during the La Liga season, Hudson can be heard delivering some of the most ridiculously sublime descriptions of events during matches, but no one player inspires Hudson quite like Lionel Messi.
"He doesn't live in the tactical world or the technical world, he lives in the magnetic spectrum of genius!!!!!"
"The mercurial, brilliant magician that is Lionel Messi..."
"This little diamond of a footballer."
"This little miniature marvel."
"What he is, he's like something out of Greek mythology man. A little short-legged bull, covered with eyes."
Whatever you think about Hudson's commentary style, you cannot deny that his muse, the 5' 7", 23-year old Argentinean forward, is worthy of the praise and verbal laurels...or at least you should.
Since his first appearance with Barcelona's senior club in 2004, all Messi has done is score 119 goals and 56 assist in 177 appearances. Along the way Barca has won five La Liga titles, one Copy del Rey, four Spanish Super Cups, one UEFA Super Cup, one FIFA Club World Cup and two European Cups.
Messi has won the Ballon d'Or twice, FIFA World Player of the Year once, FIFPro World Player of the Year twice, an Olympic goal medal...are you getting the idea? There's not much left that Messi hasn't accomplished either with his club or earned as a personal accolade, and it's not like he's got all this hardware just for being a nice guy (which is is by the way).
Lionel Messi is amazing, magical and spectacular, in fact there likely isn't a positive adjective know to us that hasn't been attributed to Messi's on the field ability. I think the aforementioned Ray Hudson explained it best.
"Everybody's running out of adjectives and descriptions for that man."
He's not lying and while some may grow annoyed with the admiration and accolades given to Messi, even his most adamant detractor can still be pushed to admit his brilliance. Of course that praise will also be sandwiched between some kind of qualifier about how great his teammates are and that he wouldn't be a great without players like Xavi and Iniesta around him. Of course it helps having world class talent on the field with you, but there is enough evidence of Messi's individual skill to make this argument quite watered down.
Case in point.
Despite all the evidence, some will stubbornly hide their eyes from the truth and grasp at anything they can to dry to lessen Messi's accomplishments. A popular option is criticizing Messi for having not "delivered" on the World Cup stage. Since joining the senior Argentina team in 2005, he's been through two World Cup cycles and his national team has yet to win the the most prized soccer trophy in the world. Pay no mind the coaching issues or the players around him, it's obviously his fault La Albiceleste failed in Germany and South Africa. This is what happens when you're the greatest player in the world and people who just don't like you need an excuse for ignoring greatness.
I have little doubt Messi would love to win the World Cup for his country, but the idea of trying to lessen his accomplishments by finding the one thing he hasn't manage to accomplish is a bit ridiculous...did I mention he's only 23? You know, now that I think about it, I haven't seen Wayne Rooney or Cristiano Ronaldo holding up that trophy either. Oh and he did win the U-20 World Cup in 2005...does that count?
No matter what happens on Saturday in the Champions League final at Wembley, we'll likely hear the same tired script from his detractors. It's sad because they are missing something special and not enjoying the fact that we're gifted with the opportunity to enjoy the career of one of the great players of all time. We're all fans of different clubs and different countries, but when it comes down to it, we should all be fans of the game and those who play it well. We should want to want to enjoy seeing it played at the highest levels, no matter who it is or what jersey they wear.
Revel in the fact that every time Messi steps on the pitch, there is a chance he will do something that leaves you thinking, did I just really see that? Did that just happen? After all, it's a game and it's about having fun and few play the game as well or have as much fun doing it as Lionel Messi.
For news, opinion, and feature articles leading up to the UEFA Champions League final, bookmark this StoryStream and check it often. We'll have new posts right here throughout the week, during the game, and after the game. For more on the entire world of footy, check out SB Nation Soccer. Manchester United fans should head over to The Busby Babe, while Barcelona fans should check out Barca Blaugranes.