It is a known fact that in the last 10 years football has been dominated by two unreal and unbelievable footballers who claim to be humans: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. That is why there’s no point going into the individual achievements, records and trophies between this pair as it trumps that of every other footballer that has ever walked the surface of the earth. It’s so superior that since they appeared on the scene of world football about a decade ago they’ve taken it by storm; turning out to be like the proverbial old wine that gets better with time.
The dominance is such that in the last 9 years, the top 3 Ballon D’Or finalists have not only included these two; the award has also been won by one of them with Messi clinching 5 and Ronaldo with the remaining 4 to his name. During this period they’ve been so good that every other footballer who has attempted to rise to the pinnacle of world football cannot come close even in their poor season.
(NOTE: A Messi or Ronaldo poor season will still always give you at least 100 goals and assists between them or even more; with or without trophies). Yes, they are that good!!!
That’s why it is really amusing when football fans, pundits, journalists and ex-players around the world try to compare them in a bid to determine who the best is. However, the truth is: it is always better to admire these guys individually for their abilities than try to pit them against each other. For me, the amazing part of Lionel Messi’s game has to be his mesmerizing runs and dribbles whenever he’s on the ball, and the way he skips past challenges and tackles like they are non-existent. It’s almost like the ball is connected to his feet via a strong magnetic force that cannot be broken. Ronaldo on the other hand is the only footballer I have seen or heard of, with the ability to nod the ball the way he does. According to a biomechanics test carried out on him at the University of Chichester in 2011, Ronaldo jumps higher (78cm) than an average NBA player (71cm) and when he takes off to nod a ball in the air; he generates 5G of gravitational force – this is 5 times the power of a Cheetah in full flight. Little wonder defences stand no chance against him whenever he operates in this beast mode.
That said, some believe that great injustice has been done to these two football gods by whoever or whatever ensured that they made it into the same era or generation of footballers as it would prevent the world from appreciating their individual abilities to the best due to unwarranted comparisons.
The fear or impending reality staring football fans in the face is that after the retirement of both Ronaldo and Messi, it would take a very long time before the football world sees anyone like them again. This is because there is currently no young player who has played at the top level and has shown an impressive blend of consistency, competitiveness, hard work and talent like these two have demonstrated even in the face of immense pressure.
Yes I know that players like Sanchez, Neymar, Hazard, Griezmann, Lewandowski, Aubameyang etc. are good players but my point is: Ronaldo and Messi have raised the bar too high to a level we might not experience again for decades to come. Asides from the talent inherent in these two and the work they put in, another major reason it would be difficult for upcoming players to match their feat or even come close is: Messi and Ronaldo have always been surrounded by top notch world class players and I believe that there is currently a scarcity of those kind of players in the next generation of footballers. I mean, Messi has had the likes of Iniesta, Alves, Xavi, Ronaldinho, Puyol etc to play with; while Ronaldo has benefitted hugely from playing with guys like Marcelo, Alonso, Kroos, Modric, Ramos etc. Another thing is; whenever these 2 have a goal drought or whenever they perform poorly over a period of time, they always come back stronger irrespective of media and fans criticisms. Young players these days on the other hand, usually do succumb to pressure rather than use it as a springboard for greater performances.
Although we might have to wait a long time before seeing another player(s) like Messi and Ronaldo, one of the ‘positives’ we should expect when these two retire is: the Ballon D’Or would once again be contested for by mere mortals not aliens or gods who claim to be footballers.
Finally, the retirement of Ronaldo and Messi wouldn’t necessarily mean that the standard of football has fallen because truth be told: they raised the bar that high in the first place. So, their retirement would only mean that every exceptional player out there doing their job well has a fair chance of being recognized at the top level i.e the Ballon D’Or, without Ronaldo or Messi stoping their shine.