As not only one of the most famous soccer players in the world but also one of the greatest players ever to play the game, what Lionel Messi says has a huge influence over many people. Something I realized I didn’t know though was if Messi can speak in English. So I decided to find out. Here’s what I discovered.
Lionel Messi does not speak English. Having spent the majority of his life living in Spanish speaking countries the only language Messi speaks is Spanish and he cannot speak in English. He is also not able to understand English and needs a translator to interpret English for him.
There are multiple examples from interviews Messi has done that prove this point. Keep reading and I’ll show you 3 times it was clear Messi can’t speak English as well as showing you an example of Messi speaking a language other than Spanish.
If you are also interested in finding out how many red cards Messi has received throughout his career click here to go to another one of my articles answering this question. You may be surprised at the answer.
Examples of Messi’s Inability to Speak English
To clearly show you that Lionel Messi can’t speak English, I want to share 3 situations I found where it is clear Messi doesn’t speak English.
The first example I discovered that shows Messi doesn’t understand English comes from an interview with Cristiano Ronaldo after the Ballon d’Or ceremony in January 2016.
After the ceremony, Ronaldo (who speaks fluent English) was asked about his experience and answered that during the ceremony he had been acting as a translator for both Messi and Neymar as neither of them understands English. He also joked that he told Messi and Neymar that they would have to pay him for the translation! [source]
Messi’s lack of ability to speak English was also evident again at the Ballon d’Or in 2019.
During an interview with both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, the interviewer began by speaking to Ronaldo in English. However, partway through, the interviewer attempts to bring Messi into the conversation and there’s a moment where it is obvious Messi doesn’t understand, and both the interviewer and Ronaldo switch to speaking in Spanish so that Messi can understand what is being said.
Take a look at the video below to see the interview for yourself.
To find out what languages Ronaldo speaks, check out this article I recently wrote.
One more piece of evidence that Messi doesn’t speak English comes from a heart-warming story of an 11-year-old boy who spent part of his vacation playing soccer on the beach with Messi and his children.
In the summer of 2019 11-year-old Mackenzie O’Neill bumped into Lionel Messi while on vacation in Antigua. After seeing Mackenzie kicking a soccer ball around on the beach near them, Messi invited Mackenzie to play soccer with him and his son Thiago.
Although he had a great time and an incredible experience, Mackenzie did mention when interviewed afterward that he didn’t receive any soccer advice from Messi because Messi “doesn’t speak English” and “Messi’s wife [Antonella] translated because she speaks English very well.” [source]
As well as being another example of the fact that Messi doesn’t speak English this story does show that Lionel Messi’s wife, Antonella Roccuzzo, speaks fluent English and can act as a translator for Messi when needed.
There is however a difference between speaking a language and understanding it. So, let’s look at the possibility that Messi understands English even if he doesn’t speak it.
Is Messi the GOAT of Soccer? Find out in my article – Who is the GOAT of Soccer? Messi, Maradona, Ronaldo?
Does Messi Understand English?
The English language is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world and a large percentage of soccer players speak English having spent time living in an English-speaking country or community.
Because of this, there are some people who say that even if Messi doesn’t speak English he must understand some English as the use of the language is so widespread.
There are also people who believe he must understand English as they sometimes see him in interviews with English-speaking interviewers and he replies (in Spanish) to the questions the interviewer is asking.
However, the reality is that most of these videos are edited to look like Messi is replying straight away when he probably isn’t.
What is most likely happening is that the interviewer is asking the question, which is then translated for Messi to understand before he answers in Spanish. If the interviewer doesn’t understand Spanish then Messi’s answer will then probably be translated so the interviewer understands what he has just said.
Once the interview is over then all this translation will be edited out of the video and the public will only see a copy of the interview similar to the one above.
Because of the reality of the way these videos are edited, along with the examples I’ve shown above, you can see that Messi doesn’t speak or understand English and needs a translator to understand what is being said when English is being spoken.
It’s possible he understands commonly used words such as “hello” or “thanks” and in this video below he says that he does understand some English, but there’s no strong evidence that he understands English enough to be able to get by without a translator.
What Language Does Messi Speak?
Having established that Messi clearly can’t speak or understand English you may be asking yourself: what language does Messi speak?
Having been born in Spanish speaking Argentina and then moving to Spain where he has lived ever since he was 13 years old, Messi speaks Spanish fluently and also understands Catalan.
In every interview you can find of Messi speaking, he speaks in Spanish. This should be no surprise for someone who has spent his entire life in Spanish-speaking countries. In fact, it would be more strange if he didn’t speak any Spanish!
Alongside Spanish, he also understands the Catalan language.
The city of Barcelona, where Messi has lived since the age of 13, is located in the region of Catalonia in Spain, and Catalonia is one of 3 regions in Spain where the Catalan language is spoken. It is even estimated that 50-60% of Barcelona’s total population speaks Catalan. [source]
In an interview online, Messi is asked if he speaks Catalan at home and he replies – “Yes, the little one [Mateo], he says a lot of things. Thiago less. I understand it all.” [source]
Messi not only speaks Spanish but also Catalan.
As a left-footed player, Messi is one of the best in the world. But does that mean that left-footed players are more likely to be better? Find out here.
Examples of Messi Speaking Languages Other Than Spanish
While writing this article, I spent a lot of time searching for examples of Messi speaking in English and I was unable to find a single one. This makes sense considering everything we’ve looked at so far.
I did, however, find a video that further demonstrates Messi’s reluctance to speak in English and reinforces the fact that he doesn’t speak English.
While on a trip to Egypt Messi was asked by the host to saw the words “I love Egypt” in English. Despite the simple request Messi declined the opportunity to say these words.
Have a look at this dialogue in the video below.
The only example I could find of Messi speaking a language other than Spanish was a commercial I came across of Messi attempting to speak Japanese. I don’t speak Japanese, so am unable to tell you how well he did but you can take a look below and see for yourself!
Hopefully, you now feel you have the answer to your question.
To find out what it takes to become as great a player as Lionel Messi check out my article – 21 Soccer Tips: For Every Player and Position or have a look at another of my articles – A Striker in Soccer: The Complete Guide.
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