Two of the Greats
World famous footballers Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been a part of the key ingredients for modern football, and have defined an era of football between them. For the last ten years, the prestigious award that honors ‘Best Footballer of the Year’ has always jumped between Messi and Ronaldo. Albeit unfair to other footballers, who seem to simply attend these events for courtesy, both Messi and Ronaldo pave the way for top-class football. It can be argued that for younger fans, a life of football without Messi and Ronaldo would feel rather strange – because as of right now that time has never existed and it never will.
Needless to say that when we talk about Messi or Ronaldo in a few years’ time, it won’t be without dazzling moves, reminiscent of the sheer talent that they have given. It is true that when these two football legends retire, they will leave behind a void that might be difficult to replace, if it’s replaceable at all.
This poses the question: What will happen to football? What kind of legacy will be left behind? Read further to examine estimates of what football might look like.
Will Neymar Take the Throne?
Back in the day, the 87th minute struck and Neymar stepped up to take a free-kick against PSG, fans at this point had accepted defeat, 3 goals in the space of 5 minutes was an impossible feat that could not happen no matter how hard they wished.
Fast-forward to a free-kick, penalty, and an assist, Neymar was placed in history as the engineer behind one of the greatest Champions League comebacks of all time. Although he has been slated in the past for his tendency to showboat and dip-dive, Neymar remains the most likely recipient of ‘Best Player in the World’ once Messi and Ronaldo officially hang up their boots for good.
Neymar isn’t alone in his pursuit to the top and there are plenty of other front runners in the mix – namely the likes of Gareth Bale, Pogba, etc. However, against all these odds, it is likely Neymar will take the title.
An International Team Struggle
Both Argentina and Portugal take great pride in having players like Ronaldo and Messi on their starting squads. However, all good things can’t last forever, and these international teams need to consider how their teams will look without the duo. Messi leads an incredible record for Argentina, with 158 caps and 80 goals. However, Messi has been criticized in the past for not having great performances at an international level. His response? To go on to put on magical performances in WC 2014, Copa America 2016, etc. It is safe to say that Argentina will have big shoes to fill once Messi retires from football as one of Argentina’s best-ever players.
Ronaldo, however, has been Portugal’s national football hero. One of his biggest moments for Portugal was when he scored 2 goals in 3 minutes against Sweden in the 2014 playoffs which led the Portuguese team straight to Brazil. He is the current all-time record goalscorer for the Portuguese national team, and the highest overall men’s international goal scorer in history, having scored 115 goals in 184 appearances. The passion he has for his country is something legends have and he always gets tearful when wearing his Portugal jersey with pride. There is no clear successor in the Portugal squad currently, and the future of the team after Ronaldo’s retirement is questionable.
At the end of the day, there will be tons of articles written, hundreds of thousands of tweets in the Twitterverse amongst all the other public outpours, but when all is said and done – the fate of football will have to keep going, just like it has done time and time again. Football has seen the passing of the greats, Kaka, Ronaldinho, Maradona to name a few – but as the age-old phrase goes: ‘The show must go on.’
Instead, we can celebrate in nostalgia that we were alive to witness this excellent era of football, where these players have taken us on an insane roller-coaster of football-themed emotions. In this way, we can tell younger generations about the stories of Messi and Ronaldo, and how they gave us some of the greatest football games in history.