Universal magic of football Messi to Mbappe

Cannot put a finger to it, but clear that football knows no boundary and in as much as Argentina celebrated the World Cup victory in a pulsating final against France, a number of football fans not even remotely connected to the victorious team did join the merry making. This is perhaps where the universal appeal of football lies and likewise in as much as the French must have brooded over the loss to the Argentines, there must have been quite a number of people across the world who also joined the mourning. This observation is perfectly in line with the fact that football is the most popular sports in the world and this is again perhaps the reason why Pele, Maradona, Platini, Zico, Zidane, Messi, Christiano Ronaldo, Mbappe etal cut across Nationalities and drop the name of any of the personalities mentioned here and one can perhaps start an animated conversation with a total stranger say from Zimbabwe to Australia. To many, December 18, 2022 was not just another date on the calendar and to an equally number it will go down as the date that Messi laid his hands on the FIFA World Cup trophy, the only ware missing in his cabinet and get his name imprinted along the likes of the late Maradona, Kempes and all other World Cup heroes who have etched their names as champions. If this is how the world responded to the FIFA World Cup 2022, Manipur did not lag behind in participating in the biggest sporting bonanza in the world. Thanks to the presence of an avid footballer in the person of Chief Minister N Biren, to hundreds of football loving people, watching the final of the World Cup meant they could do so with others, thanks to the big screen that was installed at BOAT on December 18. Sure the people who turned out to watch the final of the World Cup at BOAT were divided into those who backed Argentina and another who backed France, but the common thread that ran through the ‘rival supporters’ was the love for football. To the die hard supporters of Messi and the South American team, the fireworks and the crackers that went off could have been for the Argentine win, but to many others it could have also meant a victory for football played at the biggest stage, the World Cup final.
The beautiful game, as Pele once referred to football and it this spirit that could be read into the spontaneous response of the people after the heroics of Messi and Mbappe. Argentina are world champions, but at the same time, it is also true that France stole the hearts of many with their spirit, the determination to fight back and not give an inch. In as much as Messi has been lauded as the best, perhaps the greatest of the present generation, many may see Mbappe as the man of the future. One may be said to have closed his chapter at the World Cup stage with a win, while the other may be said to be ready to step into the shoe that would be left vacant. This is the beauty of the game and for a place like Manipur which has given some of the best footballers to the country, it is this sentiment which will run through. In as much as Manipur celebrated the win of Messi and Argentina, it should not be forgotten that Manipur has given great footballers to the country. Kiron Khongsai, Gunabir Singh, James, etc may be stars of yester years but it is them who opened the door for the present lot to ply their trade with some of the biggest football clubs in the country today. The World Cup is over and while the talk on the final, perhaps the best since 1986, will continue, let the people of Manipur also remember how the Japanese fans conducted themselves at the football venues after each match. A lesson for all.