Messi: Need to protect prized players

By Frederick Mordi

 

In 1994, FIFA announced a ban on tackling from behind. The world’s football governing body took the decision, shortly before the World Cup held that year in the United States, to protect valuable players. This followed a series of persistent and deliberate hard tackles that prematurely ended the career of Marco van Basten, one of the best footballers in the world at the time.

Messi

It has been almost three weeks since the current soccer sensation, Lionel Messi, was sidelined by a knee injury he suffered during a match between his club, Barcelona, and Las Palmas. According to reports, Messi might not be able to lace his boots for his club until 22nd November when his team faces rivals, Real Madrid. The media have been understandably following every step he is taking to get back on his feet again. Messi, himself, has been using the social media to update fans on his progress so far.

Messi recovery

While Messi is on ‘forced leave,’ his fellow teammates Luis Suarez and Neymar, have tried to hold the fort. But without a Messi to strike fear into the hearts of defenders, opponents appear to be getting bolder as they try to tame a lame Barcelona. The limping Barcelona lost 2-1 to Sevilla, and 4-1 to lowly rated Celta Vigo, in recent games played during Messi’s absence.

Should Messi not recover on time to lead his club’s attack against a more formidable team like Cristiano Ronaldo’s Real Madrid, the outcome of the highly anticipated match, might be easily predictable. No doubt, Barca’s coach, Luis Enrique, must be feeling miserable by now as he anxiously awaits the doctors’ verdict on Messi.

A number of high profile footballers have had their promising career truncated by a series of injuries. Prominent among them include van Basten of Holland, who was earlier mentioned, Ronaldo da Lima of Brazil, and Nigeria’s Daniel ‘the bull’ Amokachi.

Marco van Basten

Marco

Marco van Basten retired from football at the age of 28 due to injuries that he sustained from nasty defenders over the years. He got little or no protection from the referees, until FIFA waded in. By then, it was a little too late.

Ronaldo da Lima

Ronaldo 2

Few strikers today can match Ronaldo’s power and speed on the field in his heydays. Nicknamed ‘the phenomenon,’ he was like a missile that ripped through the defence line of opponents with ease. Again, injury cut short his promising career.

Daniel Amokachi

Amokachi

Daniel ‘the bull’ Amokachi was equally unstoppable during his playing days. He did creditably well both at the club level and with the Nigerian national team, before he too, succumbed to injury.

Messi 2

Since Messi has become a prized asset to Barcelona his club; Argentina his native country; and football fans across the world, referees should do more to protect him from the fierce tackles of ruthless defenders. He is too young to quit the stage.

The ovation has just begun.

 

 

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