It has long been assumed that this World Cup will almost certainly be the end of the international careers of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. However, their starlight is so bright that it has eclipsed all the other goodbyes that will take place in Qatar’s migrant-filled fields.
This tournament will extinguish the light of an entire galaxy. This will likely be the last time Luka Modric, Thiago Silva, Daniel Alves, Manuel Neuer, Thomas Müller, Jordi Alba, Angel Di Maria, Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani, Eden Hazard and Antoine Griezmann grace the greatest sports scene. offer. Robert Lewandowski and Gareth Bale could still join them as part of a superstar group on a farewell tour.
The World Cups, of course, have always pursued this goal. Just as they are the forge of greatness, they also act as the place where he takes his bow.
In this regard, this World Cup is no different from any other. Yet the numbers themselves say something else. It seems that football will enter the tournament with one elite, and leave it with a completely different one. It’s not because the percentage of famous players at the end of their careers is higher than usual. That’s because there are more famous players out there, period.
And while it is likely that the last 15 years will be viewed almost exclusively through the lens of Messi and Ronaldo, the two players who defined him. However, such an interpretation would be reductive. Instead, it is better seen as football’s first truly global era: an era in which fans around the world could watch almost every second of a player’s career, when the great and the good faced each other with unprecedented frequency in the Champions League. and came to our homes through video games, a time when rare talent came together in a handful of superclubs.
The generation that will leave the scene in Qatar is the last stronghold of the first generation of players who started and ended their journey in this ecosystem.