Alex Massie

Lionel Messi’s Greatest Talent: Joy

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Goals don't come much better than this.

Part of Lionel Messi's charm - and his football really is charming - comes from the impish glee that runs through his performances. There's an almost childlike joy to Messi's game that leaves you smiling and feeling just a little better about the world. Some of that, no doubt, comes from the fact that he still looks as though he's a 12 year old playing amongst men, but there's a purity about Messi too that raises his football far above his erstwhile rivals for the title of Greatest Footballer of His Time.

Aesthetics are not the only fruit, but they matter. Is there anyone who actually dislikes Lionel Messi? Even when he does something spectacular you don't, somehow, get the sense of a player who enjoys showing off. There's no vanity to Messi's football, no boasting about his own brilliance. No posing for the cameras or to bolster his own "image" or polish his self-regard. Instead, you have a player who loses himself in the game qua game and who sometimes seems to surprise himself when he produces his magic. (He is, in so many ways, all of them good, no Cristiano Ronaldo.)

It helps, of course, that he plays for a useful team and is surrounded by decent players but Messi isn't just the best footballer in the world right now, he's also the best to watch. And those things, in football and in other sports, don't always go together.

Oh, and this particular goal? He scores it with his "wrong" foot.

[Hat-tip: Left Back In The Changing Room]

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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