Leo Messi – Leadership Lessons from an Unprecedented Leader

Whether you’re a fan of “fútbol” (soccer) or not, you’ll have to agree that the final match of the World Cup 2022 celebrated in Qatar, between Argentina and France, has to be considered the best final match in the history of the tournament. Lionel Andrés Messi led the Argentinean team as captain and wrote his name, once more, in the pages of history as an out-of-this world football player and unprecedented leader.

Born in Rosario, Argentina on June, 24 1987, Lionel Messi demonstrated his talent and started developing a unique style from a very young age. At 13 he traveled to Spain with his father for the first time for a chance to join El Barça, and his talent finally got him a spot.

Leo, lovingly called “la pulga” (the flea), earned his nickname due to his small stature; presumably, his older brothers called him “pulguita” (little flea). Since childhood, Leo struggled with growth hormone disorder or GHD and needed regular shots to support his development. However, the treatment impacted his stamina, so during his early professional trainings and matches, he could seldom endured the whole 90 minutes of a match. So to balance this out, he became extremely disciplined with his diet, sleep, strength training and stretching practice.

Yet, despite his health challenges, Lionel Messi has achieve some of the most extraordinary achievements a professional football player can only dream of. Listing them all will take more than a few pages, but we can highlight The FIFA Ballon d’Or (“Golden Ball”), which is awarded to the top performing player of the year. Messi has received it seven times. Also, highlighting his team achievements for 2021 & 2022, we have:

  • 2020-21 – Copa del Rey – Team: Barcelona
  • 2021 – Copa América – Team: Argentina
  • 2021-22 – Ligue 1 – Team: Paris Saint-Germain
  • 2022 – CONMEBOL–UEFA Cup of Champions – Team: Argentina
  • 2022 – Trophée des Champions – Team: Paris Saint-Germain
  • 2022 – FIFA World Cup -Team: Argentina

Despite Maradona’s 2018 comments about Leo’s lack of leadership, when he said: “we shouldn’t deify Messi any longer, he’s Messi when he plays for Barcelona and he’s another Messi with Argentina. He’s a great player, but he’s not a leader.” Lionel Messi has demonstrated his leadership and love for his team time and time again. Here’s why:

1.- He is a master of his trade – since his debut in F.C. Barcelona when he was still a teenager, watching Lionel Messi play can be truly mesmerizing. His footwork, unbelievable dibbling ability, pass precision, camaraderie, and the ability to run and stop on command make him an extraordinary football player. Yet, he’s been able to achieve this level of excellence, not on talent alone, but he’s put in the work consistently since he was a kid. Messi has built his legacy through daily compounded effort, dedication, discipline and love for the game. True leaders perfect their trade and surround themselves with capable people that complement them.

2.- He dusts himself up and keeps going – very seldom Messi looses his cool. Even when a player from an opposite team trips him, he gets up and keeps going. That professionalism and profound respect for the game and his team makes him the professional he is. True leaders are resilient and embrace challenge as an opportunity to learn and to grow. They understand that failure is part of success.

3.- He lifts up his teammates – Lionel Messi is undoubtedly a star, yet on the field, he not only creates his own opportunities to score, but he does the same for his team. Since true leaders create leaders, Messi passes the ball and creates opportunities for his teammates to score and shine. He not only holds the record for most goals in La Liga (Spanish First Division Nation Championship League), but he is also the player with the most official recorded assists in football history.

4.- He sets the standard for the team and inspires an entire generation – a true leader gives the team something worth following. Messi’s career is marked with glory. Aside from winning the FIFA Ballon d’Or seven times, Leo is the first player in history to win six European Golden Shoes (highest scorer)…talk about setting the bar and inspiring the younger players to dream and aim high! Yet despite of the fame and money, he’s remain humble. As any great leader, Leo understands that leadership is done by example and he’s a role model for his three sons.

5.- He led not only his team, but his country – during an interview for ESPN in 2014, Messi stated “I’d love to become the world champion, but not for others to change the way they see me, nor to become “un grade” (a celebrity), but to achieve the goal of the Argentinean team and be able to add a World Cup to the history of its titles. True leaders don’t seek their own success, their vision always includes the big picture.

There’s so much value in the lessons we learn when we transition from individual success to serving and leading others successfully. Messi is truly an unprecedented leader that has demonstrated consistently the value of embracing the strength of teamwork. He led Argentina to win this amazing achievement and did it through consistency and discipline. We can all learn from Messi, especially those of us who have a deep passion for the game!

I hope there was value for you here today. If so, please like, comment and share with one person that can benefit from this content.

Have an amazing rest of the day and God bless,



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