Lionel Messi made his strongest case yet to be regarded as soccer’s all-time greatest player after finally winning the World Cup.
However, even after Argentina’s 4-2 triumph over France in the championship game’s penalty shootout on Sunday at Lusail Stadium, it will never be possible to tell with certainty.
Messi, who has served as an example for his nation throughout the competition in Qatar, scored twice in the match that ended 3-3 after extra time.
Messi was undoubtedly forced to work for a golden prize that has eluded him during his illustrious career Kylian Mbappe.
The France forward not only helped the reigning champions rally from a 2-0 deficit to tie the game again after Messi made it 3-2 in extra time but also scored a hat trick in the process.
However, this was Messi’s World Cup and his night.
Pele, a three-time World Cup champion with Brazil, will always be considered the greatest by some. Diego Maradona, who led Argentina to the 1986 World Cup championship, is still regarded by many as the sport’s greatest idol in Messi’s native Argentina.
And for the past 15 years, Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have engaged in a personal battle over who is the greatest player of his generation.
The battle to be named the best of all time, or the GOAT, as it has come to be called, is fierce.
Players of such brilliance can be separated by the tiniest of margins.
Comparing Messi’s accomplishments to those of Pele and Maradona has always weighed against him as he has yet to take home the sport’s top honor.
In the same way, Ronaldo.
Messi has won the Ballon d’Or seven times, given to the world’s most outstanding player.
He has also won the Champions League trophy four times, the most significant honor in club soccer.
At Copa America last year, he helped his nation break its major prize drought.
But the World Cup is the test of brilliance, and Pele and Maradona cemented their fame there with heroic displays.
Messi had yet to do it until Sunday.