How will Lionel Messi’s World Cup finale compare to previous legends
Lionel Messi is now just two wins away from finally getting his hands on the World Cup that could his cement his legacy as the greatest of all time.
The Paris Saint-Germain star scored and assisted in Argentina’s thrilling quarter-final win over Netherlands to reach the final four.
GettyMessi is hoping to bow out with the one trophy he is missing
The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner has received every accolade in the game with the World Cup only missing from his collection.
Messi, a beaten finalist in 2014, is in the twilight of his glittering career and knows the Qatar tournament is his final chance at glory.
The 35-year-old is bidding to sign off on the big stage in the same fashion as a number of icons that came before him.
But sometimes football refuses to follow the fairy-tale script with Messi knowing by next week whether he will have his story book ending.
Maradona holds aloft the World Cup in 1986
Ronaldo Nazario – Storybook
El Fenomeno will always be known as one of the greatest strikers to ever play football and a huge part in establishing that legacy was his heroics at the 2002 World Cup.
Ronaldo was just 17 when he was picked for the 1994 World Cup squad, but he failed to appear as Brazil won the tournament.
The former Barcelona striker was the best around four years later as he speared A Selecao to a second successive final but a seizure suffered beforehand saw France run out 3-0 winners.
Ronaldo spent the next few years plagued by injuries but somehow he returned to rewrite his World Cup story in 2002.
And he more than claimed redemption, scoring twice in the final against Germany as he won both the Golden Boot and Brazil lifted their fifth World Cup.
His final World Cup in 2006 may have come when he was past his peak, but he still had enough in the tank to get the three goals required to make him the competitions’ all-time top scorer with 15 – a record that stood for eight years until Miroslav Klose in 2014.
AFPRonaldo won the World Cup in 2002 but still became the competition’s all time scorer four years later
Cristiano Ronaldo – Horror show
From one Ronaldo to the other!
Coming into Qatar, many fans billed the World Cup as the chance to settle the GOAT debate between Ronaldo and Messi in their final appearance at the finals.
The 37-year-old would have hoped to set down a marker after he became the first man to score at five separate World Cups in their opening game against Ghana.
Yet he lost his place in the starting line-up following an alleged fallout with head coach Fernando Santos.
And Ronaldo broke down in tears after he failed to prevent Portugal crashing out of the competition with a 1-0 defeat by Morocco.
The result meant the former Manchester United star has failed to score in all eight of his World Cup knockout stage appearances despite having 27 shots across 570 minutes.
GettyRonaldo left the pitch in tears
Pele – Storybook
As a player, he spent his peak years starring for Santos, but used the World Cup every four years to show a global audience what he could do.
Edson Arantes do Nascimento announced himself as the youngest player to win a World Cup at the age of 17 in 1958, in which he scored six goals, including two in the final as Brazil beat Sweden 5-2.
He was part of the A Selecao squad that defended their title four years later, but he suffered an injury early in the tournament.
Pele was then fouled so much in the 1966 edition that he claimed it was his last World Cup only to perform a dramatic u-turn in Mexico 1970.
And the legendary Brazilian made sure he signed off his tenure in iconic fashion as he won the third of his World Cup titles.
In his final World Cup outing, Pele guided Brazil to a 4-1 win over Italy in which he scored and assisted another two.
RexPele won the World Cup a record three times for Brazil – more than anyone else in history
Zinedine Zidane – Horror show
The 2006 final was supposed to be the swansong of one of football’s greatest ever players and yet it became something much worse.
Zidane was the face of France’s inaugural World Cup triumph on home soil back in 1998.
The Real Madrid icon received a red card for a stamp against Saudi Arabia in the group stage, only to return to lead the hosts to glory with a brace to trounce Brazil 3-0 in the final.
A thigh tear restricted Zidane to a brief cameo four years later as Les Bleus fell at the first hurdle of their title defence by finishing bottom of their group.
Zizou had been hoping to bring the curtain down in style on his career by the time 2006 rolled around as France returned to the final.
He scored to put them 1-0 up against Italy – only to be then red carded for headbutting Marco Materazzi and watch from the sidelines as his side eventually lost on penalties.
GettyZidane was sent off in the final for headbutting Marco Materazzi. It was his final action as a professional football player
Franz Beckenbauer – Storybook
Der Kaiser has a strong claim to be the World Cup’s greatest ever – as one of three men ever to have won it as a player and a manager.
His tournament debut in 1966 saw him finish tied third top-scorer as a barnstorming midfielder but West Germany ultimately fell to England.
Beckenbauer then played in a sling after suffering a broken collarbone and a dislocated shoulder in the semi-final four years later.
That 4-3 victory for Italy has since been dubbed the ‘Game of the Century’ but Beckenbauer wasn’t finished there.
In 1974, as captain and now playing in defence, he helped shut down Johan Cruyff’s Netherlands to win a World Cup final on home soil.
And 16 years later, he only went and lifted the trophy again as West Germany’s manager, with a 1-0 win over Argentina proving to be his final match in charge.
Beckenbauer captained West Germany to the 1974 World Cup
Diego Maradona – Horror show
Messi has shouldered the burden of trying to emulate his compatriot’s greatest feats at the World Cup through his entire international career.
Yet ironically Messi’s last ever game at the tournament could be one of utter jubilation that Maradona’s never proved to be.
In 1986, Maradona was the inspirational captain who carried Argentina to glory, scoring the World Cup’s greatest goal as well as it’s most controversial in a win over England.
He was beyond his peak four years later and yet came within a whisker of helping La Albiceleste retain their crown.
In America 1994, Maradona had intended to bow out from the World Cup with one last moment of magic – a stunner in a 4-0 win over Greece.
But he was sent home from the tournament in disgrace for doping when he tested positive for ephedrine in his final international as a player.
Maradona returned to the World Cup in 2010 as Argentina manager but a humbling 4–0 defeat to Germany in the quarter-finals signalled the end.
gettyDiego Maradona was kicked out of the 1994 World Cup for doping violations
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Originally Posted By Talk Sport