Great goals have the power to brighten even the dullest moments. Yesterday evening my train from Newcastle to London was about halfway through its one hour impromptu breather just outside York station when footage of Lionel Messi’s three incredible touches arrived at my phone.
I spent the next 15 minutes watching the goal on repeat, draining the dwindling data on my phone while listening to the Argentine commentary of those three incredible touches.
“Messi, Messi, Messi, Messi…….GOLAZO!!! GOLAZO!!!”
My data might nearly have expired. A lady over my left shoulder might have been complaining that her tea order hadn’t arrived. The sun might have been burning through the window on my right and scorching my arm. But while I was watching Messi’s latest entry in his own personal Best Of compilation, I really couldn’t have cared less about these inconveniences.
World Cups are remembered not only for the winners but for individual moments like the one Messi gave us last night. Comparisons were being made almost immediately with Dennis Bergkamp’s stunning three touches against Argentina in 1998. Time will tell whether Messi’s strike last night is viewed in quite the same way, but the fact that people still gush about that Dutch goal tells us something.
World Cups only come around every four years, but they tend to be filled with a disproportionate number of incredible moments and goals to keep people talking for decades afterwards.
It’s why there’s so much excitement among fans of all nations that are invited to the party. Even those with next to no chance of progressing. They know that they won’t win the thing. But they also know that their team might give them one of these little moments that will live on forever.
Try telling the Panama fans, for example, that their goal against England in a 6-1 defeat wasn’t worth making the trip.
It’s the little moments that light up the World Cup. And this one has already provided us with plenty. There was another one a few minutes from the end of the game last night, from a most unlikely source – Marcos Rojo. It means that Argentina fans can keep dreaming. They know that their team is flawed, but they also know that in Lionel Messi they have a player who has made a career out of creating little moments of joy and genius.
Perhaps all they need are a just a few more.