Diego Maradona would give his countryman Lionel Messi “heaven,” if he could. But he would not have given him the World Cup’s Golden Ball. Maradona thinks the honor should have gone to Colombia’s James Rodriguez, who scored six goals to Messi’s four in the tournament. Maradona is the most storied player in Argentina history and was Messi’s idol growing up. He knows this territory well, having won the Golden Ball himself in 1986 (with a victory over Germany in the final, natch).
The Golden Ball goes to the best player in the World Cup. This year it was hard to figure–complicated because Germany, the champion, played such a team game that standouts like Thomas Mueller (five goals) were perhaps obscured by the team’s general success. To put it in American sports terms, Germany played like the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs–and even if Messi was the LeBron James of the runner-up (and he wasn’t) you still give the award to someone on the winning team. And if not that, at least to the guy who scored the most goals. As Maradona knows.