Messi, Moses and the ‘Messiah’ who mesmerized Sri Lankans on a wonder-filled night | Sunday Observer

Messi, Moses and the ‘Messiah’ who mesmerized Sri Lankans on a wonder-filled night

25 December, 2022
Messi back in the land of promise  conquering the prized trophy
Messi back in the land of promise conquering the prized trophy

Millions of Sri Lankans, many of them looking forward to Christmas, stayed up till late on a balmy Sunday night on December 17 not waiting for Santa Claws but to witness another kind of legend who made the world’s most spectacular sporting showpiece what it ought to be, in this case the football final between Argentina and France in the Arabian state of Qatar.

Many Sri Lankans who knew little or nothing about Lionel Messi did not know what to expect, but lo and behold they got more than what they bargained for in what the experts said was the best ever World Cup final since the show began in 1930.

What was most striking was that many Sri Lankans who do not watch watchful told the Sunday Observer that because of one man Messi, whose name they picked up in public debates and conversations, they decided to break rest and watch the final.

“I don’t follow football but I was lucky I got interested in the right match at the right time when everybody else was also watching on giant screens in the country and the action was like a dream,” said Rohan Pieris who is now contemplating trading his interest in cricket for football.

The match had all the makings for a Hollywood blockbuster film script as the pendulum swung in three massive sways that would have made the bookmakers and punters falling off their seats.

Eventually Messi, also the UNICEF ambassador for children who is not short of fan mail and followers, found yet another multitude of them in Sri Lanka and one of them even threw a party for his friends in Gampaha the following day obsessed by an over-the-moon feeling.

“I have only heard of Pele and Maradona and never seen them play, but Messi is out of this world. He has the charisma to draw the attention of everybody and what was really special about him is that he lived up to the occasion,” said Jaliya Perera who claimed he has watched all five finals Messi played in.

To the experts Messi has carved his name in history in letters of gold at a time he was accused by his own countrymen of winning club trophies and not a World Cup.

There was absolutely nothing Messi did not do carrying the weight of 46 million Argentinians, fulfilling the expectations of the rest of the world except those in France perhaps and above all professionally coming through a boiling cauldron of 80,000 ticket holders packed into an arena as he led his team to victory.

In Argentina they call Messi the Messiah. Some of them may have seen Messi like a present day Moses who led his multitude and lived up to the promise of bringing home the world’s most coveted sporting trophy to a land where football is religiously followed after his team suffered a shock defeat at the hands of the Arabs (Saudi Arabia) in the curtain raiser.

According to UN estimates, Messi is the godfather of the education of 40 million school children worldwide, 15 million street children and has built over 9000 schools in over 180 countries.