Best reason to cheer Argentina's victory in the World Cup...
Having gotten introduced to soccer through Argentina, I've always had a soft spot for the Argentinian team and its utterly passionate fans. If you've ever watched a soccer game with them, and I have, rest assured they are screaming, contortingly passionate about its outcome all the time.
They put on quite a show when Argentina won the FIFA World Cup final Sunday, their first victory in 35 years, with their captain, Lionel Messi, considered an old guy at 35, who played the best soccer of his life. They call it "the beautiful game," and Messi made it a thing of beauty, as did his excellent younger teammates and their impressive manager.
Boston.com has some good pictures here:
See the best photos and videos of Argentina fans celebrating the World Cup win https://t.co/nUs8eJMDYQ pic.twitter.com/QaRMWeJWHe— Boston.com (@BostonDotCom) December 19, 2022
who has ever celebrated like argentina today? breathtaking pic.twitter.com/6FwUJ6Tkbs— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) December 19, 2022
THE LOVE OF THE GAME— Vala Afshar (@ValaAfshar) December 18, 2022
The moment when Andrés Cantor, born in Buenos Aires Argentina, calls Argentina's World Cup victory 🇦🇷⚽️ pic.twitter.com/D1S6mZkUUc
The Zeus of soccer bestowed his blessings:
Brazil great Pele congratulated Lionel Messi and Argentina for winning the World Cup final and France's Kylian Mbappe for his goal-scoring exploits. https://t.co/QLq5iuKLsF— The Associated Press (@AP) December 19, 2022
The Arabs made Messi into royalty:
Messi’s black cloak is called a 'Beshth'. Arabian warriors wore it after a victory. It’s also worn by the royal family. King of Qatar honoured Messi as a sign of respect. Signifying Messi as a warrior who won for his country Argentina pic.twitter.com/TMStG6mo57— Tallie Dar (@talliedar) December 18, 2022
As a lagniappe, the Saudis got a good giggle, as the only team to have beaten Argentina in the first round:
Saudi Arabia beat Argentina.— Mohamed Enieb 🇲🇦 (@its_menieb) December 18, 2022
Tunisia beat France.
Morocco made it to the semifinals.
Argentina wins after an insane game.
This has to be the best World Cup. pic.twitter.com/9aLy8huhaT
Saudi Arabia, the only team that beat the Champions, Argentina 🇦🇷😂#FIFAWorldCup pic.twitter.com/rXZsn3Gubv— Saad Kaiser 🇵🇸 (@TheSaadKaiser) December 18, 2022
Argentina become the first World Cup winners to lose to Saudi Arabia— Henry Mance (@henrymance) December 18, 2022
God help everyone. 26 million Saudis will be reminding you every few minutes that they beat the World Cup winner. I’m the first one to do it. 👋🏼— Mohammed Alyahya محمد اليحيى (@7yhy) December 18, 2022
But it was an amazing underdog story that blew up a lot of "narratives" about Messi and his team:
"He's never won anything with Argentina"— Luis Mazariegos (@luism8989) December 18, 2022
"He misses crucial penalties"
"He's not a true leader"
"He's too old, he's past it"
"He's never scored in an international final"
"He's never won the world cup"
All the narratives destroyed
They laughed at Argentina when we lost to Saudi Arabia— Weffrey Jellington (@jeffwellz) December 18, 2022
They said Mexico would take us out
The said we won’t beat Netherlands
They said Croatia will humble Argentina
Even an Mbappe hattrick could not stop what is destined by God. Don’t cry for me Argentina. Messi I love you. pic.twitter.com/BbZt5Jbjee
In the end, Budweiser declared Messi the GOAT:
🐐 The GOAT debate is settled. The ultimate prize is now part of the collection. The legacy is complete.— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) December 18, 2022
On the day @Argentina won their third #FIFAWorldCup, Leo Messi is your @Budweiser Player of the Match. 🐐
🇦🇷 #ARGFRA 🇫🇷 #POTM #YoursToTake #BringHomeTheBud @budfootball pic.twitter.com/4wAQD2pSyt
As did a lot of them:
MESSI AND ARGENTINA HAVE WON THE 2022 WORLD CUP 🏆— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 18, 2022
GOAT ✅ @espnfc pic.twitter.com/3qqe2TSoTX
The best sporting event I have ever seen!— Theo Walcott (@theowalcott) December 18, 2022
Thank you Argentina and France for an incredible Final. No doubt that Messi is the GOAT!!!! #FIFAWorldCup
The G.O.A.T— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) December 18, 2022
End of debate#FIFAWorldCup #TSWorldCup pic.twitter.com/jrQnzYeJSU
This is where the best reason to cheer Messi's victory comes in.
Who was Argentina's GOAT before this? None other than Diego Maradona, an object of legend in Argentina, based on his 1986 handball victory in the World Cup in Mexico City. Maradona may have played pretty good soccer and made the soccer-mad Argentinians proud, but in time he revealed having a lot of baggage — drug use, anti-Americanism, dictator-worship (Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez), and horrible scandals. He was a sad, sorry creature in the end and died early from the wear and tear of his own bad decisions.
Well, he was their hero then, because he was all they had, but now they've got Messi, whose accomplishments are significantly greater.
Messi's a stellar player, a fine religious man, a humble person, and someone who's never done drugs or made offensive public statements, let alone anti-American ones. Messi's a much more fitting hero for the soccer-mad nation to hail and emulate than Maradona ever was. And he didn't cheat to win his spectacular victory against the worthy and formidable opponent, France. He and his excellent team won a hard-fought game.
Battered Venezuelans, for one, were cheering Messi for this very reason:
Baby Jesus, please let Messi win this damn game so Argentina and the world can forget about rapist/ dictator lover Maradona once and for all!!— Germania Rodriguez Poleo (@iamGermania) December 18, 2022
December 18, 2022
There still are die-hard Maradona fans in Argentina, and I saw several references to Maradona in the crowds, and even Messi may have paid some kind of tribute to Maradona during the game.
But the victory now is the bigger one than Maradona's, and there is no controversy. Messi has effectively toppled Maradona as the greatest of all time.
Result? Argentina finally has a hero that is worthy of its respect and honor.
Good job, Messi, and reason for everyone, actually, to cheer.
Image: Twitter screen shot.