Lionel Messi captured the imagination of the American football public – if he hadn’t already captured their attention – in his first handful of appearances for Inter Miami.
The Argentine sensation has drawn a lot of attention in MLS and caused a stir around Fort Lauderdale.
And it’s not just with the layman, with a litany of celebrities including DJ Khaled, LeBron James, Kim Kardashian and Diddy.
While Messi’s work on the pitch can be categorized as an art form, the genius himself has a litany of artwork on his body.
Here, Mail Sport gives you what you always wanted to know; What magic tattoos does Messi have – and what do they mean?
The great Lionel Messi has unsurprisingly taken MLS and the American football sphere by storm
Messi with a portrait of his mother, Celia Maria Cuccittini on his left shoulder blade in 2011
Where better to start with what is widely believed to be Messi’s first ever tattoo?
Seen here in 2011, Messi is pictured with a portrait of his mother, Celia Maria Cuccittini, on his left shoulder blade.
Messi pictured in 2019 while at the Copa America in Brazil, training ahead of the quarter-finals
Continuing the family theme, Messi got his eldest son, Thiago’s hands tattooed, followed by a love heart with his name inscribed inside.
Thiago was born on November 2, 2012, which led his father to write in a Facebook post; ‘Today I am the happiest man in the world, my son was born and thank God for this gift! Thanks to my family for the support! A hug to everyone.
Thiago is now 10 years old and has shown his football skills, nutmeg his famous father, during his Inter Miami unveiling.
THE EYE OF ANTONELA
Messi has a tattoo on his right bicep that appears to be a tribute to his longtime wife Antonela
The apple of Messi’s eye is undoubtedly his childhood friend turned wife, Antontela Roccuzzo.
So it’s only fitting that the former Barcelona man has a tattoo that looks like his eye on his right bicep.
A story as well lived as the Grand Canyon, Messi and Roccuzzo met while playing for Newell’s Old Boys and reunited after moving to Catalonia to join FC Barcelona.
THE BALL HE MASTERS
The Argentine even reserved space on his dynamic left foot for his first love – a soccer ball
On Messi’s right leg there are also the dates of his children and wife inked, along with their names
THE NO. ten
It’s no surprise to see that there was room on Messi’s mercurial left foot for the Argentine’s first love.
On his favorite left leg, Messi has a soccer ball and next to it are four dates of birth; his, that of Antonela – followed by his three children; Thiago, Mateo and Ciro.
As if one leg wasn’t enough, Messi decided to ink them on the lower part of his right leg and ankle as well.
On the other side of Messi’s left shin and calf is the No.10, for which he is now synonymous with
Staying with Messi’s lethal left, on the opposite side is the No.10. However, it wasn’t his first number at Barcelona.
He started wearing the No.30 in 2004 before donning the No.19 shirt. It was in the 2008/09 season that he finally took on the shirt for which he became emblematic of the Catalan club.
Messi had a different tattoo on his shin and left calf before blacking it out in later years
Prior to the aforementioned tattoo, Messi had this blue-tinted iteration, complete with what appears to be a cross.
Of course, Messi blacked it out, with the No.10 only visible in this original artwork.
The image that stands out on Messi’s right arm is that of Jesus Christ wearing a crown of thorns
While Messi’s right arm is filled with a sleeve displaying multiple tattoos, the one that stands out the most rests on his shoulder.
The image is of Jesus Christ himself wearing a crown of thorns – a powerful and sacred image for Christians.
Messi is a Catholic and has repeatedly referred to his gratitude to God after Argentina’s World Cup win against France.
“I just said God was going to give it to me,” he told TYC Sports after the Qatar triumph. “I was sure I felt like it was time.”
Closer examination of Messi’s arm reveals it has multiple clocks, possibly indicating the role of time
A different angle shows one of the watches pictured on the Argentine’s arm in 2015
Apart from the image of Christ, there are several other interesting pieces of art along Messi’s sleeve, including three flowers and several clocks – possibly signifying the preciousness of time.
Naturally, Messi hasn’t discussed whether this is grounded or not.
Although the meaning is not exactly known, Messi’s wife Antonela has a similar tattoo on her arm
Antonela, seen with her son Mateo during a La Liga game against Real Betis in 2016, has a similar tattoo
You imagine this next tattoo will be commonly seen among eagle-eyed viewers of Messi’s upcoming games.
The crown tattoo visible at the base of Messi’s right bicep is most visible when his arms are outstretched, often after scoring.
Some reports suggest it is a tribute to Antonela, who has a similar tattoo on her right arm in the same position.
According to multiple reports, Messi also has another tribute to Antonela in the form of his lips
Although it can’t be seen explicitly in this photo, Messi’s lower abs on the left side display lips – as if someone had kissed him with lipstick.
Maybe at some point they did. In any case, several reports suggest that this is another tribute to his remarkable wife.
A close-up of Messi in 2020 in Barcelona training – showing a rosary tattoo among other things
Another tattoo that has been speculated is the rosary on the Argentine’s right forearm.
Some suggest it is a reminder and homage to his hometown of Rosario. However, it could indicate Messi’s religious beliefs with the rosary being a central instrument of practicing Catholics.