I’m a responsible, 50-year-old man with three grown up children, but when Lionel Messi played football for Barcelona, I might as well just have been an excited young boy.
That’s what watching Messi always did for me. Transported me back to that time of wonder, when dreams could still be made manifest.
He was, indeed is, football, in the most purest sense.
What I’ve always personally admired about him is the ability to keep his feet firmly on the ground despite his standing in the game.
We only need look to Neymar as the prime example of how easy it is to waste your God-given talent.
Messi has always been the exemplar, on and off the pitch, and in this day and age that really is quite remarkable and noteworthy.
Assuming that there isn’t an 11th hour caving in from La Liga, or some golden goose springs from nowhere, soon enough the unpalatable truth will become a reality and we will all see Messi in the shirt of another team.
Whether that’s PSG, Man City, Chelsea or anyone else is irrelevant. He won’t be in blaugrana.
I’ve been incredibly lucky to attend so many great games in which Leo has not only had me off of my seat, but taking temporary leave of my senses.
The 2007 Clasico and his first hat-trick, the 2009, 2011 and 2015 Champions League finals, the 2018 Copa del Rey final... too many league and Champions League games to name.
What is utterly incomprehensible about all of them is that Messi didn’t disappoint in any game I saw live. Not one.
That is his legacy.
A true one-club man - even if circumstances now appear to be conspiring to ensure he won’t stay at Barca.
It’s clear he doesn’t want to move.
His acknowledgement of the financial constraints the club are working under and adaptation to the same is laudable, and a shame the same can’t be said for some of his colleagues.
Even in a season (2020/21) where things were going to be far more difficult than he had ever experienced before, he was still beyond reproach.
As with so many other seasons, Leo led from the front. Wore his badge with pride.
What a shame then that his story seems to be coming to a premature end, denying all of us culers the opportunity to enjoy his genius for a little longer.
He allowed me, and so many of us, to dream again and for that I can only say this.
Thank you Leo. From the bottom of my aching blaugrana heart. Go well.