Well, we all knew Lionel Messi was one of the greatest footballers of all time heading into 2012.
But 2012 was the year Lionel Messi might have cemented his status as the greatest of all time.
Messi surpassed Gerd Müller’s record of most goals in a calendar year (85 in 1972) with his 85th and 86th goals of 2012 in FC Barcelona’s 2-1 win over Real Betis on Sunday. The win kept Barça unbeaten in La Liga and continued the team’s historic start to the season.
But this article is all about Messi.
The football world–minus anyone affiliated with Real Madrid, fans included–acknowledged and congratulated Leo’s greatness in 2012.
Here are just a few tweets and Facebook messages from other footballers:
Glückwunsch an meinen f50 Kollegen Messi zu seinem Rekord, einfach einmalig! Messi is all in.Congratulations to... fb.me/22q8UCrAs— Lukas-Podolski.com(@Podolski10)
Respect Lionel Messi!!!— Edin Džeko (@EdDzeko) December 10, 2012
Felicitaciones Leo Messi!! Nuevo record para el mejor del mundo! Un gran abrazo— Pocholavezzi (@PochoLavezzi) December 9, 2012
Messi is out of this world. Scoring 86 goals this year... In 2012. What an incredible accomplishment.— Alex Morgan (@alexmorgan13) December 10, 2012
"86 Tore in 2012 - Leo Messi magic!"
- Robert Lewandowski via his Facebook page
Gerd Müller added his own contribution, congratulating Messi on his achievement (via msn.foxsports.com)
My record stood for 40 years - 85 goals in 60 games - and now the best player in the world has broken it, and I'm delighted for him. He is an incredible player, gigantic. He's such a nice and modest professional and I hope he gets one or two more goals in 2012 and that he can then hold onto the record for the next 40 years.
He's fantastic. He only has one defect and that is that he doesn't play for Bayern Munich!
As The Voice of FC Barcelona, and–given there are a few games left–as the year comes to an end, I just want to say, “Thank you, Leo” for an incredible 2012.
Thank you for creating football magic on the pitch that will never been seen again.
Thank you for make “Me-ssi” chants a worldwide hymn.
Thank you for showing the world that it’s not about being flashy–it’s about teamwork.
Thank you for making all fans–of any age–feel like a kid again when we watch you play.
Thank you for always staying classing, even when your opponents have not.
Thank you for carrying this team on your shoulders every game, even though you have the most talented teammates in the world.
Thank you for showing us that even the greatest can make mistakes (e.g. your penalty miss vs. Chelsea).
Thank you for staying humble, even though, with your talent, you have every right to be a bit arrogant if you want to be. But that’s not you, and we’re thankful for that.
Thank you for a year that (hopefully) finally ended of the Messi/Ronaldo debate. There is no debate–even Madridistas need to recognize and accept it.
Thank you for showing everyone that you are not just the best player of this generation, but you will end your career as the all-time greatest footballer.
Thank you for being the closest thing to Michael Jordan–as far as dominance in his sport–that we’ve seen since MJ. All fans need to savor every game you play because one day you will leave the game…and it will never be the same. We'll long to relive the days of Messi on the pitch just like we long to relive the Jordan days.
Thank you for bringing out the best in Xavi and Andres Iniesta—not only in 2012 but always.
Thank you for making us fans watch highlight shows just to see if you scored again.
Thank you for blowing the dust off some of these old records you’ve broken.
Thank you for reminding everyone that "Thiago" is your son's name when you wear those special boots.
Thank you for improving your free-kick game. You’re arguably the best set-piece taker in the world.
Thank you for being such a great role model and humanitarian. So many fans–both young and young-at-heart–look to you for joy, entertainment and encouragement.
Thank you for helping make Tito Vilanova look so good in his first year as manager.
Thank you for helping Barcelona be up 11 points on Real Madrid. Adios Madrid and their Liga title defense.
Thank you for taking our team to the greatest start in Liga history.
Thank you for making all young fans read and learn about who Gerd Müller is and what a great footballer he was.
Thank you for making FC Barcelona, Catalunya and the Camp Nou the place where football magic happened in 2012 and the place where football magic will continue to happen for years to come.
Thank you for scoring 86 goals this year in 8 countries, against 29 opponents, in 24 stadiums and in 57 different minutes.
Thank you, Lionel Messi, for 86 goals, a potential fourth Ballon d’Or, two arms up, pointing to the heavens and a year of brilliance.
We may never see another year like this again, so be honored and privileged to be able to say you saw Leo Messi play in 2012.
It was a year unlike any other that we will ever see, from a player unlike any other that history will ever see.
Xoel, The Voice of FC Barcelona on the net, period.
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