Genius – true genius – is a fleeting thing. It comes to most people once or twice in a lifetime, usually in the kind of mundane setting that means it's not even noticed.
There's a much smaller category of incredibly gifted people, those who can work towards genius and feel it at the tips of their fingers as they grasp for it, breaking their bodies and putting their lives on hold for a dozen years just to brush at the edges of genius a couple of times a year. That's your high-level creatives, your designers, your world class professional sportspeople.
Then you have Lionel Messi, who is unfair.
That's right! I suckered you in with an abstract point about the idea of genius and it's actually a column about how Lionel Messi's good at football! And I've suckered you again, because it's not really about that either!
But Messi. He scored his sixth (sixth!) direct free kick of the league season against Villarreal on Tuesday night to start the latest of late fightbacks in a 4-4 draw – a scorcher to the keeper's side, hit so hard that Sergio Asenjo's fingertips couldn't keep it out and so precisely that it ricocheted off the post into the inside of the side netting in the opposite side of the goal.
It'd make it into a Goal of the Season montage in any league in the world. It might not be one of Messi's best ten goals this season, which might be why I ended up spending the 20 minutes after the goal went in arguing with two 90min editors who shall remain nameless (except for Jack '@calciolovesjack' Gallagher who shall not) about...Messi.
"Lionel Messi has done a good goal," I said.
"Getting a bit boring now. I’ve seen better free kicks tbf. It’s just cos it’s Messi."
"Ffs hate when Messi scores a FK, all I’ll see on Twitter for another week is 'Messi is the GOAT, you don’t know anything about football if you don’t think that. He’s just scored this insane free kick against Villarreal' f*ck off, score at a World Cup."
So yeah, there's some pushback when Messi does something good. Some of it comes from the point-scoring on Twitter, which...if you're going to let point-scoring on Twitter put you off something, you're never going to enjoy anything at all for the rest of your life. You can spark a three-day Twitter beef just by tweeting about liking Corn Flakes at the right time. Twitter is a cesspit and if you let what people say on there dictate your enjoyment of things...man. That's weak. Take a look at yourself.
The rest of it is the normalisation of what Messi does. 'I've seen better free kicks'? Well, yeah. Not every goal is the best goal ever, but that wouldn't have been the instinctive, gut reaction if someone like Federico Bernardeschi had scored that goal. You'd go 'holy sh*t!' first, and think about the rest of it later.
Leo Messi is good at football.— Chris Deeley (@ThatChris1209) February 23, 2019
But there's a little resistance to enjoying everything Messi does, an idea of 'well it's really good, but he's done better.'
Shut that goddamn hole in your big dumb face. You are watching one of the three most talented footballers in the history of the game. You're watching him at, or near as damnit, his peak. You know how often anyone gets to do this? You think someone like this is just going to come along when he retires, popping out of nowhere to fill the void? Spoiler alert: They won't. That won't happen.
Just shut up and watch him play football. Stop finding reasons to not enjoy it. Shut your hole. Watch Messi.