Whatever it takes

Minute 1, gets in between 2 players zooms past them, he is fouled from behind

Minute 11, 30 yards from the goal, he dribbled with pace at the defense, once again body tackle from the back, foul and free kick given

Minute 13, he got the pass, defender right behind, his speed and imagination is such, a quick turn and he was gone like a wind. The defender could not fathom this so he clipped his ankle. Unnecessary foul and rightfully yellow carded. The play resumed.

Minute 15, received short pass towards the end line of the right, just in front of the half line of the 105×68 meters stadium in Barcelona called Nou Camp, he tried to hold and run past the defender in front, but the defender had another idea. Sergio Ramos rammed into him mercilessly, intentionally blunt and unnecessary foul on the smallest player on pitch. Bad foul, but he continued after the brief interruption for the foul from the referee.

He was the best attacking player for Barcelona that day, who would go on to became the one of the youngest player ever to score for them and the greatest player of not just Barcelona but the world has ever seen. It was clear up until now that the only tactic the opposition had in their mind was to break his leg whenever the opportunity presented in a smart and tactical way that will not get the defender red carded and suspended from the match. That tactic worked shamelessly for most of the match, but that did not stop him for once.

After every foul, he woke up as if nothing happened. No memory of pain or malice towards the in humanness shown towards him. He did not care. He wanted to win and every time he had the ball, he had the opportunity to show why he was the greatest. Normal people under his circumstances would either be injured or faded. Their confidence broken, energy consumed and belief shaken. But nothing happened to him. He was as fresh as he was at the start of the game. Clear in mind and clear in body. Not clinging to the past failures, pushing himself each moment over and over again. Process excellence, continued persistence, fair competence, novel imagination and unmatchable performance, few of the superlatives to describe a man who will not understand a word of it because he doesn’t speak English, forever hiding his secrets to the western world.

 

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Things changed at half time, the coach realized their best player is not effective on the right, other than drawing many fouls he did not make any telling contribution, so the coach shifted him to the middle. Things were not much better, as the opposition found it easy to stifle the attack.

90th minute (the final minute of the game), long field ball to Henry from the mid field on the right who runs for few yards and then squares the ball to the center box, 20 yards from goal. There comes the man haunted with fouls for the whole evening with blistering pace to fetch the ball. He manages to slow down just in time to control the ball with his left foot, in front him was the best goal keeper of the coming decade, standing as tall he could make of himself, but he is unable to stop what happens next. Delicate chip shot from the man over the head of the goal keeper, a shot that looks so beautiful to fool the onlookers for the level mastery that is needed to execute that shot at the highest level. GOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL

Since 2003, FIFA has made the rule stricter in terms of Goal celebration. Removing shirt while celebrating constitutes a foul and yellow card, but that did not matter to him. He removed his shirt and ran back to the team dug out to celebrate the goal and the moral victory against his bitterest rivals.

Sorry for such a long digression. The protagonist of this story is Lionel Messi, and the soccer match was Barcelona vs Real Madrid, 2008.

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