The Baseball Hall of Fame has a rule that a player has to have been retired for five years before they are eligible for election. It's to stop enthusiasm for someone's current or recent perfomances overly influencing the decision, allowing time for reflection on a player's true place in the game's roll of legends.
All too often in football, current players are lauded as stars and players of the past overlooked. But the performance of Barcelona's twenty-four year old forward Lionel Messi in last night's European Cup game against Bayer Leverkusen only underlined his claim to be one of the greatest players of all time, fit to be included in a South American trio with Pelé and Maradona.
Not for nothing is Messi nicknamed The Flea and the diminunitve Argentinian danced around Bayer Leverkusen's defence as if it wasn't there at times, finding the space that lesser players can't. It's hard to think of anyone else in world football at the moment who combines anything like his acceleration, touch and finish.
It helps that Messi plays in a team based on stylish, attacking football and it also helps that that team is Barcelona, owned by its 170,000 members and standing in sharp contrast to the fur-draped and bejewelled racists and ex-Francoist businessmen who support arch rivals Real Madrid.