Lionel Messi, full name Lionel Andrés Messi, is undoubtedly one of the greatest footballers to have ever lived, and one of the highest-earning men in professional sports!
He is clearly shorter than average for a football player, but once you understand his height story, you will realize that his height is a blessing, and similar to other stars, he grew taller than expected, which has served him well enhancing his game throughout his professional career.
Lionel's height story is an interesting one, so let's investigate all things related to Lionel Messi!
Is Messi Short Heighted?
After investigating Lionel's height I believe that he wakes up in the morning shorter than 5'7", at 5'6.75" (169.5 cm), dropping to 5'6.5" (168.9 cm) throughout the majority of the day and goes to bed nearer 5'6.25" (168.3 cm) at night.
Lionel Messi is listed at 169m or 5'6.5" on Google and IMDb.
His height is listed as 5'7" in the Fifa video game series.
In official football listings, he has been listed between 1.69 cm and 170 cm throughout his career, such as 1.69cm, 5'6.5" and weight as 67kg for PSG, and for FC Barcelona he is listed at 1.70 cm or 5'7" and weight as 72kg.
Untroubled by Height as a Child
During an interview in 2013, regarding his small stature as a kid, in response to being asked if being small caused him problems, Messi mentions that:
"No, I never had any problems with my height. I was always the smallest kid, at school and in my teams." (1)
Growth Hormone Treatment
According to an article from 'The Times' in 2008 (2) "On his first day at school, he was excluded from the playground kickabout on account of his height."
Yet he dribbled so well that "His brother, Rodrigo, nicknamed him "The Flea". It stuck, and he would soon be taking his place among the bigger beasts, promoted into teams made up of older boys."
Messi's talent was obvious, but his growth was holding him back, and at age 11 Messi recalls “I was 1.32m (4ft 4in) tall". His father was also told that "Your son has unbelievable skills, but a problem has emerged. He has a hormone deficiency, and according to our analysis, he will grow no taller than 1.40m (4ft 7in). He has almost stopped growing."
Therefore the treatments begun, and according to Get French Football News (3), citing an interview from France Football magazine from late 2021, Messi remarked on his growth hormone treatments, saying "I had to give myself injections every day, one in the evening in one leg, the next day in the other."
Taking these injections never bothered the young player, or interfered with his playing or socializing, saying "I would go to see friends and take the doses I needed with me."
Although Messi remains well under the average height of a man and a footballer these days, without the treatments his stature would have almost certainly ended his football career before it had even begun!
His Height is a Positive Thing
Akin to some other sports that suit short people, football has a skill set perfectly suited to a shorter height!
On The Pitch
Messi used his lack of height to his advantage for his football, as the 2021 book "Football Legends" (4) mentions in relation to his Ronaldo rivalry on the pitch:
"Messi's height does give him an advantage over his rival: a low center of gravity. this is vital to his style of play, as it means he has superb balance."
Messi also touches on his height as an advantage on the pitch, and in the book "Messi" (2012) (5) he states:
"being smaller, I have learned to control the ball better on the ground, be more agile and faster than the bigger players in order to keep the ball.’"
Off The Pitch
It's not only on the football pitch where Messi's height is an advantage, as in Asia, being shorter and skilled is appreciated, and his height once delighted a Japanese fan, when there were cardboard cutouts of players outside the stadium.
"A Japanese couple arrive. They choose Messi and she is delighted because she is the same height as him, she can put her arm around his neck." (5)
"Because Leo is small. It sounds silly, but it isn’t. The Japanese identify with a little player who is skilled with the ball.’" (5)
Height Compared to Other Footballers
Alike other sporting stars and their field, let's compare Messi's height to some other footballers to gain a better understanding of how tall he really is.
Luis Suárez 5'11" (180.3 cm)
The Barcelona teammates have been pictured shoulder to shoulder many times, and with both wearing football boots makes for accurate height comparison.
After seeing many pics of them together on the pitch there appears to be a consistent 4.25-5 inch difference in height between the pair. For instance, on February 18, 2015 with they are next to each other and this difference is obvious. Rarely does Messi seem overly short or Suarez overly tall.
Also in various instances off the pitch, such as a holiday together in Ibiza in 2021 with both barefooted on a boat the difference remains similar, over 4 inches, but clearly under 5.
Therefore when next to Suarez, Messi appears to be around 5'6.5-75 inches tall.
Neymar 5'8" (172.7 cm)
With both players playing for Barcelona together, there appears to be around a 1.5 inch difference between the pair.
For instance, also on August 2, 2013, when standing shoulder to shoulder before the Joan Gamper trophy soccer match there is 1.75 inch difference in height.
Also, off the pitch such at the FIFA Ballon d'Or 2015 ceremony the difference is around 1.5 inches.
Therefore, next to Neymar, Messi appears around 5'6.25"-5" tall.
Andrés Iniesta 5'7.25" (170.8 cm)
When pictured together on the pitch side by side at the ballon d'or 2010 there appears no more than 1 inch of height between them.
In another instance, at the Football Awards Gala Dec 18th 2017, when pictured together there appears a slightly larger difference of 1.25 inches.
So when compared to each other, Messi appears to be around 5'6"-5'6.25" when compared to Iniesta.
The Results - when compared to other celebs, Lionel Messi appears to be 5'6"-5'6.75" tall.
Average Height of a World Class Soccer Player
According to topendsports (6), who analysed collected player data from the World Cup, 2018, the average height of a soccer player is 5'11.8 (182.4 cm), with goalkeepers coming in at 6'2.4" (188.9 cm), defenders 6'0.1" (183.2 cm), and those playing upfront at 5'10.75 (179.7 cm) for midfielders at 5'11.4" (181.4 cm) for forwards.
Messi is clearly shorter than the average height for his position of forward. However, he doesn't stand alone in terms of being a phenomenal player and standing under average height, as there are some other shorter forwards such as Neymar or Mohamed Salah who both stand around 5'8", below average height and are excellent at their game.
Heights of The Top 10 Richest Soccer Players (usd)
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic, estimated net worth 190-210 mill, height 6'4.5" (194.3 cm)
- Cristiano Ronaldo, estimated net worth 450-500 mill, height 6'1" (185.4 cm)
- David Beckham, estimated net worth 450 mill, height 5'11" (180.3 cm)
- Alexandre Pato, estimated net worth 145-150 mill, height 5'10.5" (179.1 cm)
- Mathieu Flamini, estimated net worth 20-30 bill, height 5'10" (177.8 cm)
- Wayne Rooney, estimated net worth 170 mill, height 5'9" (175.3 cm)
- Dave Whelan, estimated net worth, 210-220 mill, height 5'9" (175.3 cm)
- Faiq Bolkiah, estimated net worth 20 bill, height 5'9" (175.3 cm)
- Neymar, estimated net worth 200 mill, height 5'8" (172.7 cm)
- Lionel Messi, estimated net worth 400-420 mill, height 5'6.5" (168.9 cm)
- The average height on the list is 5'10.25" (178.4 cm) and Messi stands 3.75 inches shorter than this.
- The tallest player on the list is Zlatan Ibrahimovic at 6'4", and the shortest is Lionel Messi at 5'6.5" which is a 9.5 inch difference in height
- The top-earning footballer is Mathieu Flamini who stands at 5'10" tall.
The Bottom Line
Arnold Schwarzenegger once branded Messi "the football terminator", and for good reason, as he is phenomenal at his game. Messi never appears under 5'6" or as tall as 5'7". He is listed in between at 5'6.5" and I believe that this holds true and is the height he stands at for the majority of the day.
- Antonela Roccuzzo, Wife (m. 2017), 5'2" (157.5 cm)
- Sergio Aguero, Close friend, 5'8" (172.7 cm)
- Xavi Hernandez, Manager of Barcelona (2021-), 5'6" (167.6 cm)
- Mauricio Pochettino, Manager of Paris Saint-Germain (2021-), 5'11.5" (181.6 cm)
- Cristiano Ronaldo, Footballer of Manchester United (2022-), 6'1" (185.4 cm)
1: World Soccer: Lionel Messi Interview (Part One) January, 2014
2: THE TIMES: Lionel Messi on a mission, April 20, 2008
3: Get French Football News: Lionel Messi explains he never felt the hormone treatment he received as a child put his career in doubt
4: Football Legends: Lionel Messi, By E. L. Norry · 2021
5: Messi by L. Caioli, First published in 2012, page 357, 310, 122
6: topendsports: Anthropometry of the Players at the 2018 World Cup