The 18th of December 2022 was the day the world looked forward to. From the day the finalists were confirmed, there was a steady build up of excitement among billions around the world, regardless of their nationality and loyalty to clubs, eager to witness the Lionel Messi’s swansong, hoping, praying that this will be his last hoorah, his ascension to the throne of the great Diego Maradona.
As the dusk began to fall upon the winter’s day in Malhar, people began to gather at the football ground, decked up for the occasion with a large screen to project the match and food stalls serving snacks and hot beverages.
The festivities kicked off with an exhibition football match of the two finalists – Argentina and France, for both adults and kids. Played with the usual fervour, the game provided the much-needed build up for Messi’s last world cup.
Would the French, with the young Kylian MBappe – Heir apparent to the title of the best player in the world, of the greatest of all time – spoil the party and take home the cup le deuxième fois?
Will this be the day when Messi finally is crowned World champion – a title which had eluded him over the decades while winning all the other major trophies in Football?
As the match began, Argentina took an early lead, courtesy of a Messi penalty, sending the gathered crow into frenzy, shouts of “Vamos” filled the air, excitement began to build amongst the attendees whose wish to see Argentina crowned champions seemed to be less than 67 minutes away…
Soon after Argentina Scored again, this time through Angel di Maria, sending Argentina on course for victory. But the excitement factor was amplified with just 10 minutes of play left when Kylian MBappe scored twice in quick succession to equalize and push the tie into extra time.
What more could a neutral observer ask for? Excitement, despair, neutrals changing sides, flags waving, chants of messi! messi! all filled the air as the atmosphere began to resemble a carnival.
More drama into the extra time as Messi scored again and Mbappe too to finally take the match into penalties where destiny seemed to prevail. Argentina were crowned world champions after a long gap of 36 years!
Sports has the greatest ability to gather people together, it unites them under a common banner, gives them a common denominator to come together and celebrate. How else does an event happening far away, played by people from countries impossibly far to reach that it’s almost a pilgrimage of a lifetime to be able to travel to, assemble people with so much passion?