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Saturday, September 18, 2021

Oh What a Mess(i): Seven footballers who broke down and wept

Lionel Messi's tearful departure from Barcelona might have marked the end of a famous chapter, but the six-time Ballon d'Or winner was just the latest in a list of many who gave in to emotion.

Written by Nimish Dubey |
Updated: August 9, 2021 3:38:12 pm
Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Son Heung-min in picture crying. (Reuters/File)

The beautiful game is, at times, a very emotional one too. Lionel Messi’s tearful departure from Barcelona might have marked the end of a famous footballing chapter, but the legendary Argentine was just the latest in a list of many who gave in to emotion. Football is littered with occasions on which players have simply been unable to keep their tears back. So, as the world looks at the tearful Mess(i) Barcelona have created, here’s a look at seven other football players who literally let their eyes run, even as the world watched:

EXPLAINED | Why Lionel Messi is leaving Barcelona

Iker Casillas — When you are on your own

Iker Casillas, Spain and Real Madrid’s legendary goalkeeper, was made to leave Real Madrid in a hastily arranged press conference in 2015, with none of his teammates in the crowd, and no one from the club near him. This was a man who had played 725 games for the club, won every trophy imaginable (La Liga, Champions League, Copa del Rey, the works!), and had even won the World Cup and the European Championships. And he was sitting alone with no trophies, no senior club representative, no one bidding him farewell or even offering a word of thanks. Small wonder the man many consider to be one of the goalkeepers of all time, dissolved into tears. As the cameras clicked, he tried to say bravely, “You’ll get another one with tears.”

David Luiz — The despair of defeat

In terms of sheer shock, perhaps no result in football history has been as surprising as Germany’s 7-1 thumping of Brazil in front of their own crowd in the 2014 World Cup. As the spectators watched in sheer stunned grief, their team (one of the pre-tournament favourites) was overrun and battered by a German side that seemed actually embarrassed at times to be humiliating their hosts. When the match ended, the Brazilian players collapsed on the pitch in shock. The most emotional was David Luiz who broke down and wept while talking to a TV reporter. “I just wanted to bring happiness to these people. My people have suffered so much with other things… sorry to everyone. Sorry to all Brazilians,” the emotional defender said, tears rolling down his face.

Son Heung-min — Feeling the pain of the one you hurt

A player makes a ferocious tackle on another. The other takes a bad fall and collapses on the pitch, screaming in agony. The referee books the player who committed the foul. Sounds routine? Well, what made this particular incident in 2019 different was that the man who committed the foul, Tottenham Hotspur’s Son Heung-min was so horrified by the tackle he made on Everton’s Andre Gomes, that he started weeping in shock on the pitch. Everton players actually tried to console him as the Korean literally cried his eyes out on realising the extent of the injury he had caused.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic — Yes, even Zlatan cries

He has been known for strutting on a pitch and for his tongue in cheek replies to queries. Heck, this is the guy who titled his book, “I Am Football,” and accused Pep Guardiola of having no “b*lls” (not of the footballing kind). So you can imagine how surprised the press contingent were earlier this year when the man broke down when asked how his family and children reacted to his leaving them to play for Sweden (he had made a comeback to international football). “That’s not a good question you’re asking,” Ibrahimovic began. “I had Vincent here who really cried when I left him. But no… it’s okay.” And then as everyone watched in surprise, the man who once called himself God, started weeping.

Luis Suarez — Scoring, topping the league… and sobbing

Liverpool entered their match against Crystal Palace on May 5, 2014, with a very real chance of winning the Premier League for the first time in more than two decades. They were level on points with Manchester City with two matches to go and needed to score a lot of goals to make up the goal difference. When the Reds went up 3-0 with more than half an hour to play, it seemed as if the title might be coming to Anfield after all. However, 11 minutes of sheer madness at the end saw Palace get back to 3-3, and effectively end Liverpool’s chances of a historic title. Yes, the club ended the match on top of the league table but City had a game in hand. The Liverpool players collapsed on the pitch in shock at the end, and while captain Steven Gerrard blinked back tears of disappointment, one of the team’s goalscorers on the night, Luis Suarez (one of the best players of the season), could not control himself, and wept profusely. So much so that even the Palace players tried to console him.

Loris Karius — After the bloopers, came the tears

Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius had a horrific Champions League final against Real Madrid in 2018. The young goalkeeper gifted Madrid two goals through errors that would have embarrassed school-level goalkeepers — he actually threw the ball to a Madrid forward who was right in front of him at one stage! Liverpool ended losing the match 3-1, and as the disappointed players trudged off the pitch, Karius walked up towards the Liverpool fans, and weeping profusely, apologised, pointing at himself, folding his palms, and taking the blame for his club’s defeat.

Paul Gascoigne — The tears of Turin

Perhaps the most famous instance of a football player weeping. England midfielder Paul Gasciogne had been having a fantastic 1990 World Cup, being a key factor in England reaching the semi-finals. And he was playing a terrific match against West Germany in the semi-finals when a foul earned him a yellow card. As “Gazza” (as he was affectionately known) had already got a yellow card earlier in the tournament, the second yellow effectively meant that even if England got to the finals, he would not be allowed to play in it. The young English midfielder seemed to have realised it too, and while he tried to put a brave face on it, the tears flowed. England did not make it to the final, and Gascoigne would never play in a World Cup again. But the “Tears of Turin” would go down in football folklore as one of the most emotional moments on a football pitch.

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