World Cup failure won't tarnish Messi & Ronaldo's legacy
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo (Getty Images)
Cape Town - Former Manchester United forward Dwight Yorke believes that not winning the Soccer World Cup won’t tarnish Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s legacy as players.
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The Barcelona and Real Madrid stars will captain Argentina and Portugal respectively at the upcoming tournament in Russia.
Both players are missing a World Cup winners medal from their collection and many believe, because of their age, that this will be their last chance at winning the global showpiece.
Ronaldo, 33, guided Portugal to the 2016 European Championship final against host nation France but limped off in tears 25 minutes into the match with a serious knee injury.
After strapping his knee, the former United attacker came out of the dressing room to play an inspirational role in the technical area.
Portugal held France deep into extra-time as Ronaldo and head coach Fernando Santos yelled out orders from the touchline.
On the 108th minute, goalkeeper Hugo Lloris struggled to keep out a searching strike from Eder, who came off the bench to win the match at the Stade de France.
Messi has experienced misfortune with cup finals for Argentina.
The 30-year-old guided the La Albiceleste to three consecutive cup finals which ended in defeat.
Argentina failed to overcome Germany in the 2014 World Cup before suffering back-to-back Copa America final losses to Chile and USA.
Messi and Ronaldo have both starred for their club’s in the past ten years, winning Champions League’s, La Liga trophies and Copa del Rey's but a World Cup medal is not hard to come by.
However, Yorke says that both players do not have to win a World Cup to be regarded as one of the best players alongside World Cup winners Diego Maradona and Pele.
LEGACY REMAIN INTACT
“In the last 10-15 years, there’s no better player than Messi,” said Yorke, who arrived in South Africa to be a part SuperSport's World Cup analyst team.
“When you think of what the kid has done and yes, that cloud is still hanging over him because of the failure of the World Cups and that’s why I mentioned this year somehow, I feel he will produced the best we’ve ever seen Messi in a World Cup.
“In global status, it depends in what era you’ve been born, you look at Pele in the 60s and 70s, people born then will say he is the greatest, (Diego) Maradona in the 80s and 90s they will say he’s the greatest because they saw them (play).
“But in the modern-day game, Cristiano Ronaldo and certainly Messi, they are the elite of our sport and we are lucky to have them in our era to see these players play.
“They will always be one of the greats, whether they go on to win the world cup or not, I think they will be up there with the likes of the Pele’s and Maradona’s.”
Portugal will kick-off their tournament campaign against 2010 World Cup champions Spain before taking on Morocco and Iran in Group B.
Messi's Argentina are in Group D alongside Croatia, Iceland and African giants Nigeria.
Host nation Russia will kick-off the competition on Thursday, June 14 against Saudi Arabia at the new Luzhniki Stadium (17:00 SA time).
Tashreeq Vardien is a paper basketball dustbin champion and works at Sport24... Follow Tashreeq on Twitter.