OPEN LETTER

Rise and conquer

INDIA-SPORTS-FOOTBALL-LIONEL-MESSI A boy heads a football in front of a poster of Lionel Messi, which says he should come back, displayed at a football ground in Chennai | AFP

Open Letter to Lionel Messi on his shock retirement

Dear Messi,

I can clearly understand the anguish that shot through you when you failed to convert your penalty kick and simultaneously failed to take your team, Argentina, to victory. There is as much sorrow in defeat as ecstasy in a win. As they say, success has a hundred fathers while failure is an orphan. But Robert Bruce failed 14 times before he was inspired by a spider spinning his web and triumphed the 15th time. Then why, dear Messi, have you suddenly decided to hang up your boots when the whole soccer-loving world wants you to take the field again for your beloved country? Don’t you realise that victory and defeat are two sides of the same coin and that, with the magic that you are capable of thanks to your skills, you could still court victory? A true champion never chickens out, never abandons the gauntlet, never fails to rise to the challenge and Messi, does anyone have to tell you that you are a champion? Brush away defeat like you would a speck on your jersey and rise to conquer, for Argentina, for the game that made you a household name.

Vijayalakshmi A.

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We want our MESSIah back

I know this isn't the best of times for you and this letter comes at an inappropriate juncture. The reason I am writing this is because every weekend, my friends and I huddle around the television, burning the midnight oil, flummoxed by your slaloms, dribbles and runs, as you score amazing goals. For most of us, week after week, we come under stress from school, college or work. To be able to relieve ourselves of this malaise by enjoying your play is a delight for most of us across the world. You have become a tangible fabric of our lives.

Repeated defeats in the finals of various competitions have exacerbated your pain, with people questioning you about your inability to win trophies for the national team like you do for your club, FC Barcelona. But I know that you are the ultimate warrior and champion. You have been forged out of something more than talent; you have passion, fire and desire. I cannot bear to see such an inspiring scion of the football world quit. That is what the weak, and faint-hearted do. You have repeatedly shown us that you are the best in the world. We are with you, and implore you to reconsider your decision. For, not only do I, sitting in a suburb of Chennai, want to see you enjoy the success you deserve, so does your country. Both you and I know that your countrymen will recognise you as their finest only once you bag a major trophy. Failure to do so would be a blot on your image. A certain Sachin Tendulkar, my country's finest sportsman ever, suffered repeated heartache at the cricket World Cup. But he never gave in, and in the swansong of his career, had the privilege of lifting the trophy at his home town—Mumbai. The fates will conspire to reward you soon. For, when someone like you, for whom the sport is not just a game but a breathing, living speck of magic does their utmost, a force above will acknowledge it. In a Copa America final filled with brash, rash, aggressive play, you stood out. The Argentine Football Association is besotted with problems and the nation is hungry to end a 27-year wait for silverware. For them and for us, please return. In the dingy alleys of the state of Kerala in India, children run around in your jersey and are dumbstruck at your exploits. Our boys spend so much time on YouTube, watching your videos. We all want you, our MESSIah back.

I understand that this letter may seem rather impudent on my part, when I cannot fathom the emotional duress you are under. For the greater good, I implore you to think above the heat of the moment, and return to claim the glory that is rightfully yours. Your teammates and you have the requisite talent to give it another go. Please do so.

Anirudh Madhavan
Chennai

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Thanks, for everything

You are a great footballer. You know that; the world knows that. And while the pain of having not been able to lift a trophy for your beloved Argentina can only be felt by you, it does not diminish in any way the magnificence with which you have played the beautiful game as an individual, a member of whatever team you have been part of, and off the field as a UNICEF ambassador, bringing joy to billions around the world. Children in countries that have no hope of qualifying for the World Cup wear T-shirts with your name on it—that is the kind of reverence in which you are held. No other contemporary sporting legend has the kind of power you have, and yet you choose to walk away from it, which is a sign of tremendous self-confidence and humility. People will compare you with your countryman who steered Argentina to victory three decades ago. But I say that comparison is an unfair one, between a gentleman and a rogue. Your brilliance is one of your own creation and should always remain that way. And while you have chosen to no longer grace us with your presence on a football pitch, I am sure your spirit and inner strength will see you continue to be a driving force for good in the world of sport. Muchas gracias, senor!

Madhav Acharya
Chennai

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Never say die

I would like to say that at this young age you should not think of retirement. Football is always a game of 11 players and you are one among them. Winning and losing is part of life; never take decision in haste. Argentina needs you and there are millions of people in the world who just love you and your contribution towards football. You are a ‘Messi’ah” to all.

We all face this situation in our life and I know what you are going through. I can see this in your eyes and I can only say that believe in yourself and please come out of this situation as soon as possible. God has sent you to play football.

At this young age you have achieved so much and you can achieve more by playing. The world is waiting to see you in 2018; please don’t disappoint millions of crazy fans. I can only say you will come out with flying colours. You are truly blessed. I can give you many examples but for me the one person with a never-say-die attitude is Roger Federer. We all are praying for you and we can only say please come back . God bless you always.

P.K. Subramanian
Delhi

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