Lionel Messi's average World Cup displays of the past have been one of the main talking points heading into this year's tournament in Brazil. They heightened somewhat before Argentina's game against Bosnia, with people questioning Messi's commitment and even quality before and during the game. Lionel Messi scored a stunning winner though, silencing his critics, for now.
But, a quick look at Twitter after 20 minutes or so really made me lose faith in football fans and their desires. The Messi rubbishing was incredible and as the bandwagon grew stronger in numbers, the utter disrespect to what is, in my opinion anyway, one of the best players ever was unbearable.
Don't we, as football fans who crave entertainment, want to see the best players shine on the biggest stage of all?
I could understand if Messi was a figure hard to admire or like, but even the most staunch Real Madrid or Brazil fans, who could possibly hate the little man, would surely want to see such a talented player reach his very best and, most importantly of all, deliver some iconic World Cup moments?
The Argentine is a consummate professional with admirers all over the world, yet mocking him seems to be the new 'craze' this World Cup. Even hipsters are turning on him! It's hardly like he's Lee Cattermole or anything. Actually, even mentioning Lee Cattermole in the same article as Lionel Messi seems disrespectful to the little man, but I'm trying to make a point!
Ultimately, Messi delivered against Bosnia and scored a memorable winner. It was phenomenal. It's exactly the sort of goal all football fans should want to see and he's a footballer we should all be backing to shine in Brazil. The World Cup needs big players to step up and hammer home how impressive they are. Without it, the tournament just isn't the same.
Of course I'm not writing this to tell football fans how they should act towards certain players or patronise in any way, I was just shocked at the reaction. Admittedly it was nice to see the lack of smugness after he scored *that* winner though.
When Lionel Messi lines up against Iran for Argentina's next group game, I'm hoping to see a tad more respect aimed his way. After his opening game against Bosnia, you'd be a fool to mock such an amazing talent anyway. The World Cup needs great, memorable moments, and little Leo is more than capable of producing them.
By Simon Kuchar - Torquay United fan