Lionel Messi has rewritten history and redefined standards throughout his extraordinary career, but his individual achievements in 2012 were utterly remarkable – even for him.
Messi won more in other seasons. The 2011/12 season, for example, was one of the few in the 2010s that Barcelona didn’t win La Liga, while he won the Champions League in 2011 and 2015 but not 2012 – the Catalans were knocked out by an underdog Chelsea in the semi-finals.
There was also no tournament with Argentina that year, while his only team trophy was the Copa del Rey with Barça. But on an individual level, nobody has ever or will ever match what Messi did.
He scored 91 goals in the calendar year…ninety one! 79 for Barcelona and 12 for Argentina.
In 2017, Harry Kane was lauded for scoring 56 goals for club and country in 12 months. That in itself was a ridiculous feat for a goalscorer at the peak of his powers, but still nowhere close to Messi.
When most world class strikers would be hailed for scoring 40 goals, Messi raised the bar. His career alone has set new expectations across the board at the highest level.
Spanning the 2011/12 and 2012/13 seasons, Messi’s incredible 2012 form contributed to him netting 73 in the former and 60 in the latter in total. His final league tally in 2011/12 was 50 goals, a record in La Liga and a record as a winning mark in the European Golden Shoe stakes.
Even Cristiano Ronaldo at his absolute peak never matched Messi’s unbelievable 2012 numbers. Messi himself has also never managed to match it, underlining how incredible it was.
There was nowhere else the Ballon d’Or could have gone that year. It is also no surprise that Messi swept over 40% of the overall vote from an original shortlist of 23. Even though Ronaldo also had an outstanding year – the best of his career at that point – it wasn’t remotely close.
That Ballon d’Or was the fourth of Messi’s career and a record-breaking moment in itself. It saw him surpass the previous record of three awards first set by Johan Cruyff in the 1970s and later matched by Michel Platini and Marco van Basten in the 1980s and 1990s respectively.
Messi equalled the record in 2011 when the was just 24 and with, theoretically, the best years of his career still ahead of him. That was absolutely true because 2012 shattered everything.