Even Messi Couldn’t Hold on…
After the final match against Chile in 2016, arguably the best footballer ever, Lionel Messi announced his retirement from the Argentina National team.
He had had enough.
He played and missed the first penalty in the final match and wept bitterly after his team lost the final match.
The same team had lost the World Cup final at extra time just two years before that day and now again, another trophy had eluded them.
A lot of criticism had been targeted at him and his ‘golden generation’ of teammates for not winning any trophies in over ten years.
Though only a small percentage of people actually blamed him for the loss of the match and the failure of the team, Lionel Messi was too pained to consider facts.
He was the captain of the team and led some other teammates to face the press after the competition ended.
His face showed defeat and his look was empty of hope.
‘For me, the national team is over,” he said after the defeat by Chile. “I’ve done all I can. It hurts not to be a champion.”
“It’s been four finals, I tried,” added Messi, the most beautiful footballer I have ever watched.
“I think this is best for everyone. First of all for me, then for everyone.
“I think there’s a lot of people who want this, who obviously are not satisfied, as we are not satisfied reaching a final and not winning it.
“It’s very hard, but the decision is taken. Now I will not try more and there will be no going back.’
He spoke the words in his thick and low voice and there were no smiles across his face as he delivered the blow of a news to the football world.
Lionel Messi was the reason I stayed awake at night to watch football.
But he didn’t know that.
He was the reason hundreds of millions of football watchers still love the game.
But he forgot all that.
His dribbles, passes and goals had became iconic and praised even by rivals.
But there he was, quitting because of ‘a lot of people’ who wanted his retirement, in his opinion.
Messi, the winner of numerous trophies for Barcelona and a lot of individual awards, the role model of over a million young footballers, one of the best sportsman ever,
He was greatly affected by people’s opinions so much that he put an end to doing what he loved best with his country.
Just because of at most, forty-five million Argentinian citizens, he wanted to deny the remaining 99.4% of the world population the beauty and blessing of seeing him play football.
Messi quitted football because of the minority.
Friends, You and I are not better than Lionel Messi.
Have we not also quitted doing a good deed just because of a few criticism or negative feedback?
So many times, we make the same mistakes Messi did as we stop a good thing about us just because a very small number of people, sometimes just a single person, complained.
Just because of the hurt we received from few persons, we begin to consider changing our good character and turning over a new, but negative, leaf.
The girl whose smiles always brighten our days said she would stop because a younger person disrespected her.
She said it was because she smiles too much.
The guy who always give out money to supply people’s needs said he would also stop and become more selfish.
Because two people capitalized on his giving spirit and cheated him of some money.
And now, he wanted to deny the rest of us just because of two people.
The man who made us laugh said he would stop because he felt some people don’t like to see him laugh.
She said she would stop advising people just because the girl she advised the last time didn’t heed to her words of counsel.
I can go on and on, citing examples and making illustrations about people who had made the decision to stop doing a good thing or the other due to the criticisms they perceived or received from people.
But we know it is not right.
We all know it is wrong, but the human nature always leans towards the wrong.
Lionel Messi knew he was wrong too.
Just two or three weeks after announcing his retirement, he went back on his decision and returned to the team.
‘It was a decision I made in the heat of the moment’ Messi told journalists. “Many things went through my head the day of the last final and I seriously thought of leaving, but I love this country and this shirt too much.’
He had a smile on his face this time as he refused to allow the naysayers win or let his pride get in the way.
‘I’m grateful to all the people who wanted me to continue playing with Argentina, hopefully we can give them something to cheer about soon.’ Leo Messi concluded.
Cheers greeted him on his return match and millions of us who really loved him were grateful for his decision.
About a year afterwards, he scored three decisive goals in the last qualifying match, making sure Argentina qualified for the 2018 World Cup.
This is not a story to tell of the greatness of Messi or my love for the marvelous footballer.
It is a post to speak of the pain I feel anytime I see a man turn around and lose his good attribute all because a few men criticised him.
I have been there.
I have contemplated changing my personality for the worse too when I realized it seemed the world praised evil more than good.
But I can not.
I am who I am.
And I cannot, I must not change this for anyone.
And so mustn’t you.
Please, let us strive to continue doing good and being good.
Even in the face of criticism or people that make us regret our good deeds, let us try to hold on and never lose the good in us.
We must hold on tightly and refuse to be forced into living a life that is not ours.
Let us continue to shine the light.
You must never stop being a blessing to others in your own way.
Never stop spreading happiness.
God help us all.