The Guardian - "Messi’s final World Cup is not just a competition. It is a cause, a rebellion"
"Over the past few days, a photo has done the rounds: in it, an 11‑year‑old Julián Álvarez stands alongside his idol, Lionel Messi. He now has another one 11 years on: teammates this time, Messi holds him in a headlock and beams after the Manchester City striker scored against Croatia.
“The things Leo can do are incredible,” he said, and he had seen that first hand, there to finish off an impossible assist, the best of the competition. Except perhaps for the one Messi gave to Nahuel Molina in the previous round.
Messi had provided that pass and the tackle-pass which released Álvarez, running and bundling through, to score the second. It was Enzo Fernández meanwhile who had delivered the ball that led to Messi scoring the first, via the penalty spot. And he too had grown up watching the man who gave Argentina the lead, who grabbed them and pulled them to a second World Cup final, much like Maradona.
In 2016, when Messi was contemplating walking away, Fernández posted a message on Facebook which signed off saying sorry and thank you. It ran: “How are we, a bunch of nobodies who don’t live with 1% of the pressure you do, 40 million people making ridiculous demands of perfection when we don’t even know you, going to try to convince you? Do what you want but think about staying and enjoying it.”
Now at last he is, the time of his life and theirs carrying all of us to a final farewell."