Generally, when we talk about Messi, we talk about him in terms of talent. He’s the best player of this generation and possibly of all time. But even he has to show people he’s not a punk. With the last kick of the game on Saturday, October 23, Lionel Messi scored on a penalty kick to give Barcelona a 3-2 road win over Valencia, angering home fans. This led some to throw garbage (bottles, lighters, even a screw) as Barcelona celebrated. Messi wasn’t having it and said some impolite things – specifically, “la concha de tu madre, hijos de mil putas,” according to El Español‘s lip reading – to the fans at the Mestalla Stadium.
This incident encapsulates a trend we’ve seen throughout his career: Messi isn’t afraid to buck back. Here are seven times when Messi was not afraid to say, or do, exactly what he was feeling at the time.
Look, we all know Álvaro González is nowhere near Messi’s level as a footballer, but it just seems so cruel coming from Messi himself. While playing for Barcelona’s crosstown rival, Espanyol, González got into it with Messi. “You’re short,” said González, because what else could he truthfully call him out on. “You’re bad,” Messi replied. Despite allegations that Messi also spit toward González, he took it well and insisted that it was nothing more than a competitive back and forth in the heat of the moment.
Usually, nobody goes that hard in friendlies. But that doesn’t mean you can just say whatever you want to Sassy Messi. Roma’s Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa found that out in 2015, when Messi threw a headbutt at the much larger Yanga-Mbiwa and then put his hand around his throat. Yanga-Mbiwa must have really said something bad to him, and we can rule out calling Messi short because we already know his response to that one.
Messi surprised everyone by briefly retiring after this summer’s Copa América Centenario. His frustration with the Argentine Football Federation, which lead, in part, to his retirement, were evident on Instagram. He doesn’t use the social media platform all that often, so he must have been fed up to take a shot that way. He un-retired only a few months later, surprising no one.
No one is safe from Messi’s wrath, not even the coach who helped turn Barcelona into one of the best teams of all time. The story goes, according to Hans Backe, that Messi asked manager Pep Guardiola if he could have a Coca-Cola, right in the middle of a pre-game speech. Guardiola said no and so Messi did what any of us would do, he went and grabbed a Coke and drank it in front of everyone. Unfortunately, there’s no video.
Marcos Cáceres and/or Richard Ortiz
One of the strategies teams employ to slow Messi down is just to foul the shit out of him, which is why video compilations on YouTube of Messi getting fouled are so easy to find. It’s only natural that Messi would be frustrated by this and lash out, which is exactly what happened against Paraguay in the Copa América when Cáceres and Ortiz teamed up to foul him. It’s actually kind of remarkable and a testament to his overall composure that Messi has only received one red card in his career, which came in his international debut.
In 2009, Barcelona met Shakhtar Donetsk in the UEFA Super Cup, a one-game championship played between the winners of the Champion’s League and what was known at the time as the UEFA Cup. At one point in the match, Messi shoved Croatian legend Darijo Srna and then, when Srna had the audacity to step to him, he pushed and headbutted him.
Random River Plate Fan
If true, no one can really find fault with Messi for this one. While in Japan with Barcelona for the Club World Cup, he had a run-in with a supporter of Argentine club River Plate. The fan proceeded to insult and spit the player, leading Messi to retaliate with a punch, allegedly.