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The Sad Truth About Messi

Gabriel Omar Batistuta, an Argentine soccer player nicknamed Batigol as well as El Angel Gabriel, now retired, was the top scorer with Argentina’s national team. This happened until Lionel Messi, with a majestic goal, surpassed his record. Argentina beat the U.S. 4-0 in a game in which Messi showed again why he is widely considered the best player in the world.

Lionel Messi netted his 55th goal, overcoming Batistuta’s record of 54 goals in 78 games. Messi is now the top scorer also with Spain’s La Liga (The League), the top professional association football division of the Spanish football league system, Clásicos (as any match between fierce rivals Real Madrid and FC Barcelona is called) and with his own Barcelona team.

Messi reached his new record with a stupendous free-kick stunner from over 25 yards that left Brad Guzan, the U.S. goalkeeper, totally defeated. There was a tremendous air of expectation at the stadium before Messi kicked the ball, only interrupted by repeated shouts of “Messi”, “Messi”! from the crowd. Messi slowly tied up his shoes, looked at the net and with jeweler’s precision, he sent the ball which landed with spaceship ease in the upper right hand corner of the net. More than 70,000 people saw him reach another milestone.

Breaking records has now become a habit for Messi. In addition to the free-kick goal, Messi contributed to Argentina’s victory with two splendid assists that ended in goals. Messi scored his goal three days short of his 29th birthday, while Batistuta was four years older when he scored his last one.

Every move by La Pulga (the Flea), as he is frequently called, was loudly celebrated by the public. No one, however, was as enthusiastic as the fan that, walking across the field, came in front of Messi and bowed at his feet. He then embraced Messi, who signed the fan’s shirt with a marker pen before the fan run off and was caught by security personnel.

Unlike his often boastful compatriot Maradona, Messi, a generally humble man, declared after the game, “I have to thank my team-mates with whom I’ve played. The record I have achieved is thanks to them…From the first day we did things in a spectacular way, and we deserve to be here, for how we’ve been working. I hope that the final game goes well.”

In an interview with the newspaper La Nación, Eduardo Galeano, the noted Uruguayan writer, once said that while Maradona had the ball tied to his foot, Messi had the ball inside it, and that is why he was able to play the way he did. Messi learned about Galeano’s theory from the Argentine national team’s coach and was so delighted with it that he sent Galeano a jersey with his name as a present.

Speaking to Líbero, a program that goes out on TV channel TyC Sports, Batistuta said about Messi before he achieved his record, “I became the national team’s leading scorer almost without realizing. It wasn’t a goal I set for myself. It wasn’t an objective or an obsession, because I never cared about statistics. Now Leo is going to take it from me, I have to say it hurts a bit. It’s not just any old player who is moving past me, though. It’s going to someone who is out of this world and that makes me feel a bit better.” And, without realizing it, Batistuta told us the sad truth about Messi. Messi is not just a normal human being. He is an extraterrestrial.

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Dr. Cesar Chelala is a co-winner of the 1979 Overseas Press Club of America award for the article “Missing or Disappeared in Argentina: The Desperate Search for Thousands of Abducted Victims.”

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