Winning the 2014 FIFA World Cup’s most prestigious individual award was the last thing on Lionel Messi’s mind Sunday night.
Messi was in a somber mood as he collected the Golden Ball Award following Argentina’s extra-time loss to Germany in the 2014 World Cup Final.
When he finally emerged from the dressing room, Messi told the assembled media that the accolade didn’t ease the pain he was feeling.
“Right now, nothing can console me –- not the award or anything else,” Messi said, according to FIFA.com. “Our only goal was to take home the World Cup and enjoy our victory with everyone in Argentina. We deserved a bit more after the game we played, and it was very painful to lose that way.”
Many were surprised by the decision to name Messi the tournament’s best player. Messi headlined a 10-player list that included top scorer James Rodriguez; Germany talismen Toni Kroos, Thomas Muller, Mats Hummels and Philipp Lahm; Argentina’s Angel di Maria and Javier Mascherano; Brazil forward Neymar and Dutch winger Arjen Robben.
Messi captained finalist Argentina throughout the tournament. He scored four goals in three group-stage games but failed to add to his tally in the three knockout-round games. Nevertheless, Argentina head coach Alejandro Sabella said FIFA made the right decision in awarding Messi the Golden Ball, according to the BBC.
Diego Maradona disagrees with Sabella. The Argentinian legend said Rodriguez should have won the award and Messi’s victory was arranged to satisfy commercial interests.
“But it’s not right when someone wins something that he shouldn’t have won just because of some marketing plan,” Maradona told Telesur, according to beIN Sport.
Messi took his team to the brink of World Cup glory, and his overall numbers from the tournament are impressive. But his subdued performances against Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany weaken his case.
Could it be that we judge Messi’s performances unfairly — relative to his own astronomically high standards instead of those of his rivals. After all, this is no ordinary player. Or maybe FIFA made a mistake.
Photo via Twitter/@BBCSport