Lionel Messi cannot escape Diego Maradona. Whether he is on the sidelines, in the stands or merely a foil for comparisons in the media, Maradona seems to be everywhere that Messi goes. While the associations between Argentina's legendary No. 10s is somewhat inevitable, Maradona is also not shy about sharing his opinions on Messi. The 53-year-old who famously lifted Argentina to success in the 1986 World Cup with his skill and his guile publicly proclaimed that Messi did not deserve to win the Golden Ball as the best player at the 2014 World Cup.
"I would give him heaven if possible," Maradona said of Messi after Argentina's 1-0 defeat to Germany in the final during his show on Telesur, via Goal.com. "But it's not right when someone wins something that he shouldn't have won just because of some marketing plan."
A visibly despondent Messi received the trophy shortly after the final whistle at the Maracana sealed Germany's win. The recipient of the honor, one that Maradona won in 1986, is determined by FIFA's Technical Study Group. It is presented by Adidas, a brand linked to Messi.
— adidas (@adidas) July 13, 2014
Messi, a four-time Ballon d'or winner as the world's best player, scored four goals for Argentina as it won all its games in the group stage. He assisted teammate Angel di Maria's winning goal against Switzerland in the Round of 16, but was unable to register a goal or assist in the quarterfinal, semifinal or final.
"Right now I don't care about the prize," Messi told Spanish newspaper AS after the final, reported BBC Sport. "I wanted to take Argentina to the World Cup for all the people."
Thomas Muller of Germany received the Silver Ball as the tournament's second-best player and Arjen Robben of the Netherlands received the Bronze Ball. Colombia's James Rodriguez, who won the Golden Boot as the tournament's leading scorer, was not among the top three finishers, according to the FIFA's Technical Study Group.