Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo are greats even without World Cup trophy in their cabinet

Jul 02, 2018, 13:00 IST | Kashinath Bhattacharjee

Argentine football legend Alfredo Di Stefano never played in a World Cup, as did England's George Best and Welshman Ryan Giggs

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo are greats even without World Cup trophy in their cabinet
Argentina captain Lionel Messi and Portugal skipper Cristiano Ronaldo

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo remain the Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal of football. Only difference is, they playing a team game, unlike tennis, which is an individual sport!

Argentine football legend Alfredo Di Stefano never played in a World Cup, as did England's George Best and Welshman Ryan Giggs. Meanwhile, Ferenc Puskas, Eusebio, Johan Cruyff, Michel Platini, Zico, Paolo Maldini, Ruud Gullit and Luis Figo among some of the top names in the game, did not win a World Cup. But can anyone question their status as all-time greats?

Messi and Ronaldo should be thanked for their contribution to the World Cup, rather than being criticised for their failure to win it. They were the reasons their teams came this far.

Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo

Football is, and will always be, a team game. Of course, there will always be some who contribute more to the team's success. Former Brazil captain and coach Carlos Dunga, once said that every good team needs seven to eight palanquin-bearers. The failure of both Messi and Cristiano, thereby ending their careers without a World Cup, could be due to the fact that they didn't get the required support from their teammates - their teams didn't have those palanquin-bearers.

Puskas, Cruyff, Platini, Maldini and Gullit had the teams to go all the way but Puskas and Platini were unlucky since Werner Liebrich and Harold Schumacher, both Germans, kicked their opponents in the most unwanted manner and went unpunished. Rinus Michel's Invincibles forgot to score in their effort to humiliate the West Germans, and Cruyff was lawfully but cruelly marked by Berti Vogts. Maldini's Italy in 1990 and 1994 failed in tie-breaks, while Gullit's Netherlands carried their dressing room feuds to the field. Messi or Cristiano could have easily won the World Cup with any of those sides. They didn't but that doesn't diminish their legendary status one bit.

As Dutch legend Cruyff once said: "You don't need a World Cup to be remembered."

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