The only difference between the a very good player and a great player is the ability to perform at the highest level consistently for a long period of time. But then there is still one more level to go for a player, a level that only a handful of players can attain.
For many years, Lionel Messi has often been criticized for not being the player that he should be for Argentina. Many people in his homeland cannot understand why the same player who re writes the history books at Barcelona does not turn up in his national colours.
While a lot of this is unfair on the great man, he has taken it all on his chin as he still tries to give his very best for his country. Another complaint is that Messi has never single handedly saved his country like the great Maradona did.
Last night though, Messi changed all that.
In a do or die match for Argentina, Ecuador took the lead in under 40 seconds as it seemed that Argentina would not qualify for the World Cup. It would also mean that Messi would never get another chance at footballing immortality, as this is surely his last opportunity at lifting the trophy.
But Messi did not have it, as he turned it on and scored a Hat Trick to single handedly take Argentina into the World Cup. The great great players choose their moments, and deliver on the biggest of occasions.
Messi just did that for Argentina. Make no mistake about it, there is no way Argentina would be going to Russia had it not been for their much maligned number 10. And on a personal note, Messi did what many felt he could not do for his country, lift the team to his level.
It was a triumphant night for Leo, as he finally shed the shadow of not coming up trumps for his nation. The people finally embraced their messiah and gave him the respect that Messi truly deserves.
Maradona would be proud on a night when Messi finally became an Argentine great.