All of the football records that Lionel Messi has a habit of setting appear impossible to reach, let alone surpass. Despite this, there is one benchmark in particular – that of the number of goals scored at the FIFA Club World Cup – that the Barcelona star has had to share for some time, with Denilson and Mohamed Aboutrika.
Since Wednesday, however, the Argentinian, Brazilian and Egyptian are no longer top of the tournament’s all-time scoring charts. By notching a fine brace against Al Ahly SC in the match for fifth place at Morocco 2013, CF Monterrey’s Cesar Delgado replaced the aforementioned trio at the summit by scoring his fourth and fifth goals in the competition.
This achievement is even more impressive when the fact that Delgado and his Mexican club have never got beyond the semi-finals is taken into account. Moreover, Messi has twice lifted the prestigious trophy, gaining more opportunities to add to his tally in the process.
“The record makes me very proud and happy, obviously, but you can’t really draw a comparison between me and Messi,” the former Argentina international told FIFA.com. “Leo is part of a unique group of players, and it’s an honour to be linked with him in this way, but it’s just a number, after all.”
The dynamic South American was able to reach the number in question (five) by competing at three consecutive FIFA Club World Cups with Los Rayados, the result of three successive victories in the CONCACAF Champions League between 2011 and 2013.
“It’s not every day you become top scorer in this competition,” Delgado said, a few minutes after playing a crucial role in his side’s 5-1 victory over Al Ahly.
“Scoring five goals in this global competition is not a simple task, but playing in a team like Monterrey, with team-mates who do everything they can to set up the best opportunities for you, makes things a bit easier,” he added modestly.
Swapping goals for a final
Indeed, with talented players such as Humberto Suazo, Jose Maria Basanta, Neri Cardozo and Ricardo Osorio at their disposal, and having accrued considerable experience at the two previous Club World Cups, it could be argued that the Mexican outfit have performed well below expectations.
“My individual pride doesn’t change the dejection we all feel at not reaching our goal,” pointed out the ex-Lyon player who, like his team-mates, hoped to make further progress from the fifth place secured in 2011 and the third spot earned in 2012.
“Yet again, we’ve failed to get over that hurdle – we’re lacking something that would enable us to do so. Honestly, I’d exchange all my goals for a place in the final.”
Beaten by Moroccan representatives Raja Casablanca in the quarter-finals, Monterrey were prematurely forced to put their dream on the back burner for another year. Unfortunately, they are certain not to be involved in the 2014 event after recently failing to reach the Liguilla play-offs, the domestic gateway to the CONCACAF Champions League.
“The win, fifth place and this individual scoring record are nice consolation prizes,” admitted the Toyota Man of the Match. “But we need to use all of this as a springboard to begin a new adventure.”
Now 32-years-of-age, Delgado doubtless still has a few exploits ahead of him, but is satisfied to have left his imprint on the Club World Cup.
“It’s a tournament that means a lot to me, especially as a South American – it’s very important to us,” he explained.
“To score five goals and surpass Messi is particularly pleasing for an Argentinian. I hope I can make another appearance one day and add to that total,” he concluded.