Last night's Euro 2016 final is a perfect example of how one man's personal journey, ambition and emotions can overcome an entire country and occasion.
As Cristiano Ronaldo's final came to an end after an untimely injury to his left knee, you could not help but feel sorry for him as he lay there on the field unable to stand or walk. There is no denying how much he wanted a major title with Portugal.
His tears said it all.
He went out, strapped himself and came back to the pitch only to be left in tears on the ground again. At one point, he handed over the captain's arm band to Nani and started sobbing like a child. He was sent off on a stretcher, crying.
As the scenes played out, as much as you feel for Ronaldo, you also wonder about the final match that is still on. The clock is ticking. Surely this final was not just about Ronaldo.
He should count himself lucky his team won the match and changed the narrative together with giving him the title that he so craved. Otherwise Portugal would have always been remembered as a team which couldn't do it without Ronaldo.
In the end, the turnaround of even Ronaldo's emotions was a great story in itself. But I do find it premature that Ronaldo-fanatics feel this title is now enough to separate him from Messi.
If it is so for any other reason, like many are in the Portuguese's favour, I don't mind it either. But this title, especially the final in which he played barely 20 minutes, is certainly not up there.
Even before the final he scored only three goals, the same number as Nani. If anything, it was the defensive prowess of the Portugal team that got it to glory.
|Cristiano Ronaldo got injured in the twenty fourth minute of the match. (Photo: Reuters)|
Ronaldo did not light up the stage. He wasn't much better than the team to take the plaudits himself.
Also, to count this title as the definitive tick that makes him greater than Messi is like saying Sachin Tendulkar would not have been the legend he is, often considered the greatest batsman in cricket, if he had not won the World Cup with India in 2011. He wanted it just as badly and is open to say it completed his career.
It's like saying Roger Federer will not be considered the GOAT (greatest of all time) if let's say Novak Djokovic ends up winning more grand slams than him.
These are not even absolute analogies, because in cricket, you only rarely win big titles with your national team (T-20 leagues and domestic titles aside).
There is no equitable league system in cricket where your club titles and goals can count for a cricketer's laurels. And of course tennis is an individual sport unlike both cricket and football.
In sports, it's often also about the emotion an athlete generates when you watch him, and not just the wins.
It's not only the number of goals, but also the manner in which he scored. A bit like the comparison between Tendulkar and Brian Lara - one noted for his longevity and sheer statistics, the other for the pure flair no one else could come close to.
Again, a bit like Federer versus his new competitor Djokovic. The Serb has worked tremendously hard to break through the Rafa-Roger hegemony. He has transformed himself into a supreme athlete - unbeatable, almost invincible. Yet the poetry and finesse of Federer is what makes people watch tennis.
The same is often said about Ronaldo and Messi - one worked endlessly to hone his skill, the other is just a magician.
Ronaldo will likely win this mano a mano battle with Messi eventually. But I feel it is not this Euro title that would be the defining difference.
One man's greatness is never linked to only one win or title. Had Portugal not won, even then Ronaldo fans could make an equally strong case for his supremacy.