As Lionel Messi turns 34, we look back at the time he practically recreated the iconic 'Goal of the Century' scored by Diego Maradona.
Lionel Messi is, perhaps to his own detriment, too often defined by the number of goals he scored. The problem, of course, with focusing on numbers, is that it perhaps never tells the whole story. While no one is denying the importance of statistics, merely focusing on a player’s numbers does a disservice to the actual sport itself. This is, of course, because there are a number of things which cannot be quantified. In that sense, sometimes it helps to admire the genius rather than merely looking at numbers. Of course, in Messi’s case, the number of magical moments he’s created could perhaps fill a book. Still, each moment of magic has it’s own wonderful context and brilliance.
As Lionel Messi turns 34, we look back at the time he practically recreated the iconic ‘Goal of the Century’ scored by Diego Maradona.
It’s worth noting, of course, that Messi and Maradona have been compared ever since the former emerged as a force. The similarities are obvious. Both are diminutive, left-footed and possess low centres of gravity. Both mesmerise fans and defenders alike with silky dribbling and a clinical touch in front of goal.
And Messi flourished to the point that he is now seen as the most talented player from the country since Maradona himself.
And on April 18, he would score the goal which fans then compared to the one El Diego scored against England in 1986.
The match was a Copa del Rey semi-final against Getafe, a match Barca would go on to win 5-2. Barcelona were leading the game 1-0 when Messi produced his moment of magic that left those watching amazed.
He got the ball from Xavi and seemed to be no immediate danger to the Getafe defence as he was in his own half. But he took the ball and ran about 66 yards and beat 5 defenders in the process.
Then, with only the goalkeeper to beat, he rounded him and finished on an angle with his right foot.
❌ G⚽️AL OF THE DAY
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) June 24, 2021
The similarities between both goals is obvious. Both Maradona and Messi had to beat 5 defenders and the round the goalkeeper before scoring. Both also finished with their right foot, a noteworthy fact given how one-footed both normally are.
The only thing missing from Messi’s finish was a defender trying to make a last ditch tackle then booting him from behind in the process!
As we’ve established by now, both Messi and Maradona are remarkably similar players. Yet where they differ is in how much silverware they’ve won and how they are perceived by Argentina fans.
Maradona, though an extremely flawed figure, retains the undiluted love of the Argentine public. It helps, of course, that he won the World Cup for them in 1986 and took them to the 1990 final.
Messi, by contrast, has not won an international trophy of note with Argentina. He’s taken them to the World Cup final in 2014 and three Copa America finals. But he’s not won a senior trophy with the national team.
Perhaps the most remembered of those Copa America finals would be the 2017 one. They lost the match to Chile due to a penalty shootout. Messi, who missed his own spot kick, retired after the match.
He did, however, come back to the national side shortly thereafter but a lack of success has continued to plague the national side.
Another reason why Maradona is perhaps more beloved is due to his personality. Maradona’s extroverted and bombastic public figure made him appeal to the general public.
Messi, a shy and reserved figure whose life has lacked the controversy of Diego’s, is known little for his exploits off the field.
There’s also the fact that Messi did not play any senior football in Argentina. Signed by Barcelona in his teens, he progressed through their youth team and into the senior team. And while one can argue that this is an unfair comparison, it does play a part in Maradona being the more beloved of the two.
Nevertheless, when Maradona himself said that Messi is a player who reminds him of himself, it’s easy to see why the two will forever be compared.