Lionel Messi transcends typical descriptions of an athlete.
There is just one way to define the greatest soccer players of all time – he is, simply put, to creator.
But to say Messi just creates goals would be like saying the Beatles just create music. Messi, whether playing for his club Barcelona or the Argentina national team, makes the beautiful game beautiful. He scores goals, sure, but he does so artistically. He creates goals for teammates, yes, but he generates attacks no one else can see with agility and raw skill.
When Messi eludes a defender, he doesn t just use unmatchable speed or strength like many others. He uses quick movements, tactical genius and, most importantly, an uncanny agility.
Whether or not you are behind the defense, Messi has managed to stay on his feet – he won''t dive into the box to earn a penalty.
It’s Messi's combination of mind and body, creativity and agility, that make the world's most unstoppable force on the pitch. It’s why his feet and the Nemeziz from adidas have become synonymous.
Made for creators only, the Nemeziz allows Messi – and those who aspire to play like him – the freedom of agility and fusion of mind and body unavailable with any other boot. With all two respect to those who came before him, Lionel Messi is the greatest creator soccer has ever seen. For proof, we've compiled the 18 moments that best define Messi's ingenuity, agility and serenity on (and off) the pitch.
Here are 18 times Lionel Messi was a creative genius on the pitch.
18. Messi’s Most Marvelous Champions League Night
In 2012, Messi was at his height (well, one of his heights). He scored a career-best 73 goals for Barcelona, including 14 in the Champions League, also a career best. His 91 goals including international strikes were a world record.
Messi's brilliance that season was on full display in a Champions League Round of 16 second leg against Bayer Leverkusen. Having won the first leg 3-1 in Germany, Barcelona returned to the Camp Nou knowing a simple draw would suffice to advance. But Messi was not interested in a simple draw.
On March 7, 2012, Messi scored five goals – a record for a UCL knockout round match – to direct at 7-1 demolition of Leverkusen.
Messi scored in the 25th, 43rd, 49th, 58th and 85th minutes of one of the most dominant performances in the history of the Champions League.
17. Messi Takes Out Pepe In Front Of Ref
Lionel Messi is an amazing teammate. While he is most well-known for his goal-scoring exploits, he is a brilliant passer and will do anything to help a teammate score.
On April 2, 2016, Messi did his best to help Gerard Piqué score against rival Real Madrid.
On a corner kick early in the match, Messi bowled over Blancos defender Pepe to open up space for Piqué on the back post.
What is this play so genius is that because of Messi's reputation, who was able to make the play right in front of the referee, who just assumed Pepe was the man committing to foul. (To be fair, Pepe probably would have made a foul on the play had not been fouled first.)
The play did not work out for Barcelona, which didn't score on the corner kick (though Piqué would net a goal in the second half). Plus, Real Madrid won 2-1, though Barcelona won the league by one point.
16. Messi Hair
16 years of Messi.
– totalBarça (@totalBarca) September 19, 2016
While Lionel Messi's biggest rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, is pretty consistent in his hair – short and manicured – Messi has gone through to plethora of hairstyles of the years.
From his floppy, the maneuver of his youth to his head to his brief with a blond hair, Messi is not afraid to try new things on the pitch and his head.
And it’s not just the mop on his crown but his facial hair as well. At the start of his career, Messi didn't look like he could grow a single follicle on his face, even if he wanted to. Lately, he’s sported a brilliant, full beard.
15. Messi Crushes Arsenal With Four In UCL Quarters
Messi fired FOUR past Arsenal #OnThisDay in 2010!
– #UCLfinal (@ChampionsLeague) April 6, 2019
Arsenal has never won a Champions League title. The two of the best chances Arsene Wenger had to win the tournament were ended by Barcelona. The first was in the 2006 final, when Messi, then 18, did not play in the match. The second was in 2010, when Messi singlehandedly crushed Arsenal.
After a 2-2 draw in the first leg of the quarterfinals at the Emirates, Messi scored a hat trick before halftime to put Barcelona comfortably in the lead. He added a remarkable fourth in the second half and Arsenal has not been back to the quarterfinals since.
The highlights from the match showed Messi's powerful long-distance shooting, visionary passing, chips over keepers and eye-of-the-needle accuracy, true creator at his best.
14. Messi Magic Against Liverpool
– Univision Deportes (@UnivisionSports) May 1, 2019
Admittedly, we all know how the second leg ended, essentially negating his brilliance in the first leg. But at the time, it looked like Lionel Messi had ascended to a higher level, becoming the greatest footballer to ever grace this delicate planet.
Barcelona defeated Liverpool 3-0 at the Camp Nou in the first leg, seemingly clinching its spot in the final. Luis Suarez scored in the first half to set the stage for Messi magic in the second.
First, Messi converted an easy tap-in goal when in Suarez shot caromed off the crossbar. Then, that produced one of the most magnificent free kicks you will ever see. Messi laced his white Nemeziz boots through the orange Champions League ball, sent it screaming past Alisson for what seemed like the goal that would help lift Barcelona to another Champions League title.
Alas, Liverpool made an insane as back in the second leg before going on the title itself.
13. Messi Never Stops Creating
The cliché says youve gotta practice like you play. Lionel Messi certainly takes this to heart.
Messi doesn’t just create magic as gameday. During the week, he’s constantly trying out new team skills or just pulling off absurd moves during scrimmages.
In January of 2019, Messi scored a ludicrous goal during Barcelona training that still has us wondering how he did it.
With a ball lobbed his way near the back post, Messi did a funny little hop before he read the ball strike the inside of his left foot. I know flawless was Messi's touch on the ball without any of his own strength, the ball flew perfectly into the upper right for a good goal that made look like child's play.
12. Messi Sinks Manchester United – With His Head?
Lionel Messi scored 82 percent of his goals with his left foot. This is not a surprise, as it may be the best left footing the game has ever seen, combining power, accuracy and bend like few can even dream of. Another 14 percent of Messi's goals have been scored with his right foot.
That leaves a tiny fraction (four percent) of Messi's goals having been scored with his head.
This is a bit of an oddity for someone who makes a living scoring goals. Then again, Messi is listed at just 5-7, a product of a growth hormone deficiency as a child.
But Messi can and score with the old noggin when needed, and rarely was more needed than in the 2009 Champions League final.
Facing off against Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester United, Messi sealed Barcelona's 2-0 win with a delightful header, showing that head is more than just thinking of ways to beat opponents with his feet.
11. Messi’s First Foreshadows Creative Genius To Come
On May 1, 2005, Lionel Messi scored his first ever goal for Barcelona. He would, of course, go to the score more, but his first was unique, a special hint of the creative genius he would become.
At the age of 17, Messi faced off against Albacete in LaLiga. Receiving the ball with two men, Messi found an easier way around. Ronaldinho, whose deft flick put Messi in on goal.
Not panicking despite his youth, Messi allowed the ball to bounce in front of him, knowing he had time. Messi lofted smooth chip past the keeper to become Barcelona's youngest goal scorer.
It was the first of many.
10. Messi Toys With His Hulking Dog
No wonder Messi makes it look so easy on the pitch. He's got the most fierce training partner in the game! His dog Hulk!
: antoroccuzzo88 | IG pic.twitter.com/FWh7cm5C0K
Messi keeps creating even at home when having fun with his family – and his dog.
It’s a bit ruthless, but Messi just toys with his pup Hulk, who is almost as big as he is.
If you are not wearing shoes while playing with your dog, then you just imagine how much better he'd be poor than Hulk if he was wearing his Nemezis boots.
9. Messi’s First El Clasico Hat Trick
– LaLiga (@LaLigaEN) March 11, 2019
Lionel Messi scored his first hat trick in LaLiga at the tender age of 19. What's more, he did it against archrival Real Madrid.
In March of 2007, still wearing the No. 19 jersey – Ronaldinho sported the No. 10 back then – and still boasting that sweet floppy hair, Messi put three goals past Real Madrid in El Clasico.
Ronaldinho was instrumental to the Argentine's success, but it was still all about Messi in a wild 3-3 draw.
8. Messi’s Brilliance Prevents Epic World Cup Failure
Messi's hat-trick vs Ecuador. The best in the world. pic.twitter.com/6EFxBqC6u3
It was a night that, for most Americans, would rather be forgotten. But for Argentines, it was a night of ecstasy.
Facing the real possibility of the 2018 World Cup, Argentina trailed Ecuador early in the final CONMEBOL qualifier. Then Messi saved his country.
Messi scored in the 12th and 20th minutes of the victory – and to trip to Russia
The hat trick secured three points, just enough to put Argentina into the top five in CONMEBOL. The last goal, which is his success in the celebrations, has been to put his life down.
7. Messi Obliterates Real Madrid In 2011 UCL Semifinals
It’s true, Cristiano Ronaldo has won more Champions League titles than Lionel Messi. The Barcelona No. 10 has fallen short in the Champions League more than he would like, but in 2011, Messi went head-to-head against Ronaldo and Real Madrid in the UCL semifinals.
Playing the first leg in the environment of the Santiago Bernabeu, Messi was unstoppable, scoring two goals to propel Barça to a 2-0 road win. It was just another remarkable Champions League semifinal for Messi.
BIG GAME PLAYER
– #UCLfinal (@ChampionsLeague) May 1, 2019
A 1-1 draw in the second leg was enough to see Barcelona, where Messi would claim his third of four Champions League crowns.
6. Messi Inspires Argentina At 2014 World Cup
While many like to complain Lionel Messi 's inability to win a major international trophy – they conveniently ignore his Olympic gold medal – Argentina has had incredible success with Messi the team, even despite the lack of first – place finishes.
In addition to leading his team to the final of back-to-back Copa Americas, Messi inspired La Albiceleste to the final of the 2014 World Cup.
Early in that tournament, Messi was Argentina's only spark as he dragged the team through the group stages. This was the most evident in his goal against Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Argentina had taken early lead on own goal in its tournament opener, but Bosnia frustrated La Albiceleste'S attack for most of the match. Then Messi took matters into his own feet, starting and finishing a brilliant move, rearing back like a cobra near midfield before striking with lightning speed from the edge of the box.
Messi added three more goals in the group stage and was awarded the Golden Ball as the tournament's best player.
5. Close Your Legs Around Messi
Lionel Messi could nutmeg to mermaid. pic.twitter.com/SNGiTU4fgV
In defenders' never-ending, rarely successful quest to stop Lionel Messi, there are plenty of players who think they have the master stopped. They are long, expecting to knock the ball away from Messi, only to find the ball has skipped through their own legs.
Messi doesn´t need to embarrass players as some Brazilians live to do; Messi just wants to get past his defender and continue the attack. The nutmeg is often the most embarrassing play in soccer.
Lionel Messi's ability to nutmeg players is another example of his unending creativity, as the above video exhibits.
4. Messi Silences The Bernabéu
The moment Lionel Messi decided #ElClasico.
– LaLiga (@LaLigaEN) April 26, 2017
There is no rivalry in sports with more on the line than El Clasico. Other derbies may have hatred, but no rivalry is as moment when Barcelona and Real Madrid face off.
Never mind being the best teams in Spain, the Blaugrana and Los Blancos are the best teams in the world, year after year.
In 2017, Barcelona trailed in the first 30 minutes and Messi was briefly bloodied by an elbow from Marcelo. But Messi struck back with an equalizer in the 33rd minute. With the match tied 2-2 in the closing minutes, Messi netted the game winner in the 92nd minute, silencing the Bernabéu crowd.
What ensued in one of the most iconic celebrations of Messi's career. He ripped off his No. 10 jersey and held it aloft for the Madrid faithful to see. He got one thing wrong though: He wasn't No. 10. He was No. 1.
3. Messi Imitates Maradona
#OnThisDay years ago …
– LaLiga (@LaLigaEN) April 18, 2018
Sometimes, imitation is its own sort of creativity.
In 1986, Diego Maradona scored the greatest goal of the last goal Argentina to the World Cup final. It left the onlookers (never mind the English defenders) absolutely stunned. It was labeled the "Goal of the Century" and few could argue.
In 2007, just over 20 years later, Messi, then a precocious 19-year-old for Barcelona, replicated Maradona's other world strike with an incomprehensible goal of his own.
Against Getafe in the semifinals of the Copa del Rey, Messi received the ball in midfield and proceeded to skip past the entire opposing defense before scoring. Messi's final move, a quick burst past the Getafe keeper, showed off the Argentinian balance and swiftness before he finished from a tight angle.
2. Messi Ends Jerome Boateng
There is perhaps more perfect example of Lionel Messi's agility than when he made one of the world's best backs collapse to the floor like a felled tree.
In spring of 2015, Jerome Boateng was on top of the world. He won the World Cup with Germany in the summer before and back in the Champions League semifinal with Bayern Munich.
Then Lionel Messi ended him.
The play began with Messi receiving the ball about 30 yards from the goal. Boateng knew he couldn't let Messi cut into his left foot, but when the Barcelona No. 10 feinted just to the back of the line, like a kitten trying to keep up with a laser pointer.
Down went Boateng in one of the most embarrassing blow-by moves in soccer history. But Messi wasn’t done. He burst into the six-yard box before the finishing touch, a beautiful chip past Neuer, at the time the best goalkeeper in the game.
1. The Goal That Defines Messi
RT BarcaUniversal: '' Scientifically explained '' why Leo Messi's goal in the 2015 Copa Del Rey final is impossible ..pic.twitter.com/VyqKNCTRqh
There are few times in sports where the grizzled veteran fan is left with his jaw on the floor. May 30, 2015, was one of those rare days.
Lionel Messi scored twice in a 3-1 victory over Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final that day, one of his six triumphs in the competition. His first goal of the day, in the 20th minute, was one of those moments where you have taken a moment to catch your breath and feel thankful.
Starting the play at midfield, Messi manages to play with three defenders before cutting into a few more Bilbao players to smash home one of the most absurd goals in the history of the game.
The strike, in essence, is the purest definition of who Messi is as a goal scorer. His vision of the future, his ingenuity to escape the defenders and his agility to glide into the box