Premier League Returns After Lionel Messi’s Qatar World Cup Glory

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The Qatar World Cup produced a sensational finish when a final that looked like being a simple win for Argentina turned into a game for the ages, but few outside France will begrudge the great Lionel Messi the triumph that caps a career – one that can now literally be described as world-beating.

Now memories of Qatar are fading and the Premier League has returned with its traditional flurry of Christmas and New Year fixtures, fans are able to enjoy seeing many of the players featuring in the World Cup back in the Premier League. 

Some players have been late returning to Manchester due to their teams being involved in the final, including United’s Lisandro Martinez and City’s Julian Alvarez in the Argentina Squad and United’s French central defender Raphael Varane.

However, while the football took centre stage, there remain misgivings in some quarters that Qatar was given the right to host the World Cup in the first place, given concerns over human rights issues and discriminatory laws in the country.

That may make now a good time to bring in some Respect barriers to ensure that the right approach is followed in football in the UK, right down to grassroots level, to show it is a game for everyone. 

On the field, youngsters in the Manchester area should be inspired by the knowledge that until Kylian Mbappe’s treble at the Lusail Stadium, the only man to score a hat-trick in the final had local roots, as England’s 1966 hero Geoff Hurst was born in Ashton-under-Lyne.

While Hurst’s feat is no longer unique, the town retains the honour of being the only place in England to have produced World Cup winners in two different years, as Simone Perotta, a member of the victorious Italy team in 2006, was born there before his parents returned to their homeland.

In 2010 Tameside Council included both Perotta and Hurst in a statue of the borough’s three World Cup winners, the other being Denton-born Jimmy Armfield.