Rafael Nadal won his 14th French Open title weeks ago. On his way to this triumph, he beat Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals. In the post-game interview, he said something which would be no less than a life lesson.
“Novak, Roger and I have an incredible story together. It makes the story more special, and more emotional. From my perspective, the discussion on the greatest, the number of Slams, doesn’t matter that much. We achieved our dreams.”
This quote reminds us of two sportspersons - Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. It also came as a reality check on how much time everyone is wasting criticising or trolling them when that time should be invested to enjoy them.
After Messi’s stellar 5-goal performance against Estonia, the social media flooded, as usual, with countless trolls and memes.
The theme was “If Messi frequently played such ‘minnow’ European teams like Ronaldo, his goal tally would be much higher.”
The counter to this was that “People are highlighting Messi for doing something for which they always criticise Ronaldo.”
These arguments might be right, might be wrong. But that never takes away the brilliance of any of them.
Scoring 5 goals against any side is not a joke. That is also at the age of 35. On the same day, a 37-year-old Ronaldo scored two goals against a competent Switzerland side. These are scripts of brilliance that these two greats have been writing for more than 15 years now.
The fun fact is, it’s not only about that night, it’s about their whole career. Terms like ‘Eibarman’ or ‘Lituniaman’ is quite common on social media.
What people tend to forget is that for every ‘Eibarman’ there is the top scorer in El Classico, the highest goal-scorer in finals. For every ‘Lituniaman’ there is an all-time highest goal-scorer in international football, in Uefa Champions League.
Wherever they went, they dominated the field and the fans’ hearts with their brilliance.
As Ronaldo said a few years earlier, “It’s been 15 years. For 15 years we two( Messi and Ronaldo) have been sharing this stage. It has never happened before.”
He was right when he said that. The rivalry these two shared, the moments these two produced and the frequency of those moments are unprecedented. Their 9 years together at La Liga provided roller-coaster experiences for the fans.
Even at 37, Ronaldo became the 3rd highest goal-scorer in the Premier League. He scored 65 international goals in 71 games after turning 30.
Messi at 34 became the best player, top goal-scorer, and top assist provider of Copa America and won the Ballon d’Or. On the verge of 35, the world saw what he did.
These are some of the achievements of two players who are now declining, achievements which would surpass most players' prime.
Considering everything, mocking one of them to glorify the other one is devoid of logic and sensibility, and to some extent, unacceptable.
It would be the end of an era when they retire from the beautiful game. So it'd be a wise decision to enjoy them while they are still running, before it all turns into nostalgia.