x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

An immortal Messi

The Argentine footballer has achieved a significant record, but his true moment of greatness may be ahead of him.

In a sport full of high-profile and extraordinarily well-paid champions, it's difficult to raise your head above the pack. But Barcelona star Lionel Messi did so with apparent ease on Sunday. The Argentine footballer first equalled, and then broke, Gerd Müller's 40-year-old record when he scored his 85th and 86th goals of the calendar year during a Prima Liga match against Real Betis.

Despite this, and the expectation that he would soon add to his total, Messi remained humble and focused on the immediate prize: winning more games in the Spanish league championship, where Barca is now ahead of Atletico Madrid by six points.

"It's nice to beat records but the win for the team is what is important - and the points difference at the top," the 25-year-old said after Sunday's 2-1 victory.

While holding any record is a remarkable achievement, statistics such as this may be soon forgotten. In football, it's not only individual club games, league championships or even the Champions League that make or break a player's reputation. It's victory in the World Cup.

If, as now seems very likely, Messi can lift Argentina to supremacy in Brazil in 2014, he will truly join the immortals of the beautiful game.