Is Messi Left-Footed?

When you dive into the world of football, there are only a few names that shine as brightly as Lionel Messi. But here’s a question that’s often asked – Is Messi left-footed? The short answer is – Yes, Messi is indeed left-footed, but that’s not all that makes the Argentinian as unique as he is.

Let’s take a more detailed look at why this aspect of his game is so intriguing. It is somewhat both easy and hard to understand what makes Messi stand out compared to the rest of the footballing world, so let’s try to focus on different aspects of the game.

The magic of the left foot

Why do we care about the dominance of a player’s left foot? To put it simply, left-footedness is, as strange as it might sound at first, a bit of an anomaly – even in a sport that’s played with, well, feet. In a world where right-hand dominance is the norm (affecting nearly 90% of people), it’s expected that the majority of footballers are also right-footed. This irregularity in player footedness means that left-footed players like Messi often possess an unexpected advantage. Their unexpected shooting angles and dribbling patterns can throw defenders off balance, making the ‘lefties’ particularly unpredictable on the field.

The legacy of lefties

Another Argentinian legend, Diego Maradona, was also famous for his left-footed ability, and while Messi is often compared to Maradona for various reasons, both of them being left-footed is usually not the first thing that comes to mind.

Just like Maradona, Messi managed to win the world cup with Argentina – Maradona in 1986 and Messi in 2022. 

Other examples would include some other interesting names:

  • The Hungarian legend Ferenc Puskás was known for his powerful shots and ability to score from practically any situation. 
  • Roberto Carlos made history with his left-footed free kick against France in 1997, a goal that, many would even say, defied the laws of physics. The Brazilian will be remembered as one of the best left-backs in the history of Real Madrid.
  • Arjen Robben, the Dutch right winger was mostly known for his somewhat unique role on the pitch. Robben’s left foot was way more dominant compared to his right, even though he spent the majority of his career on the right side of the pitch.
  • Gareth Bale, the former Wales captain has demonstrated the potency of his left-foot ability starting from the left-back position at Southampton and Spurs and transitioning to an attacking-minded winger at Real Madrid.

The impact of left-footedness on player performance

Interestingly, studies have suggested that being left-footed can also have implications on a player’s overall performance and career trajectory. One recent study showed that left-footed players were overrepresented in professional football relative to the general population. Another study highlighted that left-footed players often tend to score more goals. It’s not to say that being left-footed directly equates to being a superior footballer, but it certainly can provide an edge when leveraged correctly.

The specialization of positions

In football, left-footedness isn’t just a flashy anomaly – it has practical implications too. Certain positions on the pitch can specifically benefit from a player’s left foot. For instance, left-backs and left wingers who are left-footed offer a more natural fit. 

Now, Imagine having a player who plays with both feet equally on your team. In theory, you could easily place that same player on practically either side of the pitch. A good example of this would be João Cancelo. The Portuguese has proved himself as a versatile full-back who can act both as a left and right wingback.

Messi, of course, isn’t a wingback, so the fact that his right foot might not be as good as his left is not crucial here. Even with his weaker foot, Messi can do what at least 90% of other attackers in the world can’t do with their preferred foot.

The impact on gaming

The influence of a player’s dominant foot ability goes beyond the real pitch and extends into the world of video games. In games like FIFA and eFootball, a player’s weaker foot rating can significantly impact their effectiveness. For instance, a striker with a lower rated weak foot might struggle to score goals when the ball lands on that foot, thereby affecting the team’s overall performance. It’s one of those nuances that add a layer of realism and tactical depth to these games, making every match an engaging challenge.

For example, over the past ten years, Messi’s weak foot has been given either a three or a four-star rating (out of five). But even with his right foot having a somewhat mid rating, it’s obvious that even with his weaker foot, Messi can, as mentioned, perform much better compared to those who play with their right foot.


To summarize everything, yes, Messi is a left-footed player. This fact though is far from being a random piece of trivia. Being left-footed is an integral part of his playstyle. It’s something that affects both his appeal and his footballing identity quite a bit – many young players are inspired by the Argentinian which made them prefer their left foot in their early days of development. But still, the uncommon left-footedness, as seen in other greats like Maradona, Puskás, Robben, and Bale provides a fascinating deviation from the norm.