La Pulga, Leo, the Messiah – Goal takes a look at some of the alternative nicknames used for the Barcelona and Argentina superstar
Every great footballer has his nickname – Cristiano Ronaldo is known as “El Bicho”, while Carles Puyol has been called “El Tiburon”.
Lionel Messi, one of the greatest footballers to ever groom the pitch, also has his fair share of affectionate nicknames and nicknames – and Goal has what you need to know about them.
Lionel Messi nicknames
One of Messi’s most famous nicknames is that of “La Pulga”, which means “the chip” in Spanish.
Messi has been known as “La Pulga” since he was a child, having been diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency at the age of 10.
His small stature and unassuming build earned him the nickname “chip”, but his reputation as a promising footballer even at a young age meant he was known for his small size but enormous talent.
Barcelona were able to provide Messi with the proper treatment which was completed at the age of 14 and the rest, as they say, is history. Messi is one of the most famous players in Barcelona history and considered a talisman of the club.
Spanish outlets went further and started calling him “La Pulga Atomica” [the atomic flea] as a way to describe how, despite his unassuming physique, still manages to have significant upper body strength that allows him to physically dominate his opponents in challenges – while his fast footwork allows him to excel at dribbling.
His short, strong legs – he doesn’t traditionally have long legs or legs like other successful footballers – allow him to accelerate on the pitch in quick bursts.
Another nickname for Messi is ‘Leo’, a short form of his full first name that is used informally by football personalities, teammates and pundits.
Messi is said to have been named after singer Lionel Richie, the musician behind the well-known tracks “Hello” and “Truly”.
A less official nickname is, of course, the ‘GOAT’ (The greatest of all time), but that’s a tag shared by former Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo.
Football fans will also refer to Messi as’the Messiah’, a play on words combining the words “Messi” and “Messiah” to really illustrate his divine prowess and skills on the pitch.