Lionel Messi is in the same league as Pele or Diego Maradona and he doesn't need to win a World Cup to prove his greatness, feels iconic former Argentine striker Hernan Crespo. Here in the city as the ambassador of TSK 25K run, the prolific Argentine said: "Messi doesn't need that (to win a World Cup to be great player). In the whole history, I can think of five players -- Pele, (Alfredo) di Stefano, (Johan) Cruyff, (Diego) Maradona and then there is Messi."
He however hoped that Messi gets to finally lift the World Cup in Qatar 2022 even though it will be incredibly tough. "I hope (Messi wins the World Cup in 2022). It will be very hard. This is really our dream, I hope he tries again. The first one is Copa America which we are hosting and Colombia and we have a good chance to lift the Copa America."
For 44-year-old Crespo, Messi alongside Maradona belong to a "different planet" but when it comes to goal poaching abilities, the best Argentina had is undoubtedly Gabriel Batistuta. "Mario Kempes (1978 Golden Boot winner) was also special for us, then Batistuta. Lot of great strikers. Diego is from another planet. There will be Messi with Diego. Batistuta is the best striker ever in Argentina. Messi somewhere nearer."
Crespo scored nearly 250 goals in his senior career (club and international) spanning over 19 years. At the international level, Crespo scored 35 goals and is fourth-highest in the list behind Sergio Aguero, Batistuta and Lionel Messi. For someone, who had his best days in Italy, Crespo never harboured ambitions of winning a Ballon d'Or - an award he considers as a "personal trophy".
"I grew up without thinking about Ballon d'Or because at that time when I was young the Ballon d'Or was given to only the European players. I don't go with this ambition. It is a personal trophy. I think football as a team sport. It is important to receive this kind of award. It is not about my spirit. I don't think in terms of ambition to win Ballon d'Or."
The former Chelsea star further rated EPL as the best among the leagues. "In my heart, it's Serie A but at the same time now, EPL is the best. When I was in Italy, the name of the Serie A derived from "seven sisters" because the seven teams (AC Milan, Inter Milan, Fiorentina, Lazio, Juventus, Parma, Roma) were believed to be title contenders. Not anymore. The same with EPL now. Tottenham, Manchester, Arsenal and Chelsea (were giants). But now it's so competitive," the former Inter Milan forward said.
Talking about his own career, he spoke about how it was a dream to play against the legendary former Italian skipper Franco Baresi, who would turn up for AC Milan. "For me, when I came to Italy, I was young and I played against Baresi. It was more than a dream to play in Italy and this achievement was very tough," said Crespo, who has played for Milan, Inter, Parma and Lazio in the Serie A.