Lionel Messi’s Qatar metamorphosis from timid genius to ‘bad boy’ leader
When Lionel Messi won the World Cup for the fifth and, ostensibly, last time in Qatar last December, it completed possibly the greatest footballing CV of all time.
However, winning was only one half of the story.
Messi’s change in the Middle East was seen both behind the scenes and on the largest platform.
The 35-year-old’s brilliance has long been beyond question. But his personality had shifted. Messi was so bashful as a teenager that he would change in the corridor to avoid his Barcelona youth teammates.
“This World Cup, he was different,” Argentina and Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez remarked of his countryman.
CHECK OUT: Lionel Messi’s Destiny
“We’re probably more aggressive than the players on his previous national teams.” As a result, he’s definitely becoming more like us – that terrible boy.”
Some of the stars of the recently released BBC Sport documentary Lionel Messi: Destiny unpack and critique Messi’s final journey – from timid young genius to talismanic “bad boy” – in this video.
Short grey line for presentation
“He’s a fine young man, but he can’t even direct traffic.” “How can you give Scaloni the national team?”
Diego Maradona’s normally colorful comments about Lionel Scaloni’s hiring as Argentina manager in 2018 caught the mood of the country.
To put it bluntly, Scaloni was a Lionel Messi appointment – a deliberate move by the Argentine Football Association to maintain a generational talent on the team.
Prior to Scaloni’s appointment, Messi had a strained relationship with the national squad and, at times, the national manager.
After Argentina’s outstanding team was soundly defeated by Germany in the World Cup quarterfinals in 2010, then-Argentina coach Diego Maradona criticized Messi’s leadership qualities.
Argentina’s 2018 World Cup campaign was a disaster, and another coach, Jorge Sampaoli, was fired.
Between the two was 2016, a year in which Messi briefly retired from international football after missing a penalty in Chile’s Copa America final defeat.
Such setbacks assured that the Argentine FA’s primary purpose in choosing Scaloni was to keep their number one star pleased.
“The FA had a single goal: find a manager who could work with Messi and get the most out of him,” Messi biographer Guillem Balague explained.
“When Scaloni took over, he asked Messi, ‘What do you think, what would work for you?'”
“It was an equal conversation, and that’s what you have to do when you have the best player in the world.”
“He was appointed without massive press coverage or a presentation moment – there seemed to be little energy to go hunting for big names,” Argentine journalist Marcela Mora y Araujo noted.
“Most people were enraged. We knew very little about him. The job was supposed to go to a football celebrity or powerful character, but it ended up going to a guy who was somewhat nameless.”
Scaloni’s anonymity, small-town humility, and lack of vanity, on the other hand, attracted him to the Argentina squad – and, critically, to Messi.
“Scaloni’s very relaxed,” remarked Argentina and Manchester City forward Julian Alvarez. “He’s very honest, and he has that small-town charm.” I really empathize strongly with it because I am from a small town, and you can see the human aspect in him.”
“You’re always going to have talented players,” Martinez remarked, “but it’s how you manage them.” It’s like owning a Ferrari: if you don’t know how to drive it, you’ll crash at every turn. Scaloni’s sole answer is that he knows exactly how to drive a Ferrari.”