Lionel Messi, often regarded as the best soccer player in the world thanks to his record of having won six Ballon D’Or Awards, was born and raised in central Argentina.
This means that Spanish is his first language, and the one he is the most fluent in.
At the very young age of 13, he moved to Barcelona and began his journey as a professional soccer player with the famous Barcelona soccer team.
And with that being in Spain, he had no need to learn a different language.
However, as a professional soccer player that is so highly acclaimed, Messi travels all over the world and partakes in many international events and interviews.
Spanish is one of the most spoken languages in the world, so he can often communicate easily.
But what about English? After all, English is often the preferred mediating language when it comes to international events and interviews. Has Messi, therefore, learned to speak English?
Sadly, Messi does not speak English.
We suppose that, with him not having a direct need for it, he never really had to learn it, and instead kept his focus on what matters: his skills on the soccer field.
You might think it’s strange that he hasn’t managed to learn to speak any English at all, so we’ve chosen three specific examples so that you can see for yourself!
Three examples of Messi not knowing how to speak in English:
Messi cannot speak English. He has proven as much over the years, and it doesn’t seem like he will ever be learning English in the future either.
It makes sense, as the teams he plays on all speak in Spanish, Spanish is his mother language, and Spanish is also one of the most spoken languages in the world, meaning he can usually communicate with it just fine.
But just so that you have the proof, here are three specific examples that showcase Messi not knowing how to speak in English:
- FIFA Ballon d’Or Press Conference January 2016
Truth be told, almost any press conference or interview held in English can serve as proof of Messi not speaking the language, as he will have a translator with him or will simply answer back in Spanish.
A great and clear example of this is the Press Conference that was held in January of 2016 about the 2015 FIFA Ballon d’Or, with Neymar, Messi, and Ronaldo.
In this press conference, the interviewer asked all questions in English. Ronaldo, who can speak several languages including English, answered every question in English.
Messi, however, answered everything in Spanish, which was then translated into English for the interviewer and audience.
This clearly indicates that Messi doesn’t know how to speak English, as he is unable to answer the questions in the same language.
It’s also clear that it isn’t just a matter of preference because it would save quite a lot of logistical trouble if he just answered in English and translation was avoided!
Lucky for Messi, he isn’t the only one that struggles with language barriers. Neymar, also at the press conference, could also not speak English and answered all his questions in Spanish too.
Why not see for yourself? Here is a clip, found on youtube, of the press conference.
It shows Ronaldo answering a question first, in English, and then moves on to Messi and his language struggle, as he answers in Spanish and it is translated into English for the interviewer and audience.
- Interview with Ronaldo and Messi 2019
In professional and serious press conferences and interviews, it’s to be expected that Messi will need a translator or that he will simply have to answer in Spanish, as it’s the language he’s most comfortable with.
It could also be that he speaks a little English but not enough to answer such big questions.
But the truth is that even in more informal interview settings, Messi has proven that English simply isn’t his forte.
In the 2019 UCLDraw, Messi and Ronaldo sat down with each other.
This is enough to make most fans squeal, as it’s the two best soccer players in the world sitting side by side.
Not to mention they’re ongoing famous rivalry! (Especially since they played for huge rivaling teams: Real Madrid and Barcelona, for quite a few years!)
One of the event hosts noticed, and she did not let this interview opportunity slip away!
The interviewer sat with them for more of a casual or informal chat, to talk about how amazing it was to see them side by side and to joke about their ongoing rivalry, as well as their admiration for one another as great soccer players.
The interview was in English, with Ronaldo taking the lead and answering effortlessly in the language.
Meanwhile, Messi seems to be slightly confused about what’s going on, as if he doesn’t quite understand what is being said since they are talking in English!
Eventually, the interviewer realizes and switches to Spanish, so that Messi can interact and add his bit, with Ronaldo easily switching to Spanish to make it easier.
However, as soon as Messi’s answer is over, Ronaldo asks the interviewer if he should proceed in English or Spanish (as he can do either without a struggle), and the interviewer indicates for him to proceed in English.
This clearly indicates that the interview was to be conducted fully in English, with them momentarily switching to Spanish only so that Messi could add his bit, as he very obviously does not speak English, and even struggles to understand it!
We feel for him in such a situation, imagine not knowing what they’re talking about in an interview about you!
So that you can see for yourself, here is the video, found on Youtube. It’s actually quite a funny and wholesome segment, and you can clearly see that, despite the rivalry, Ronaldo and Messi have a long history of admiring each other!
- The Mackenzie O’Neill encounter with Messi 2019
We tried looking for an example that wasn’t just an interview or press conference, and we came across this lovely story that went viral back in July of 2019 that actually serves to prove that Messi doesn’t speak English!
Basically, an 11-year old called Mackenzie O’Neill was on a family vacation in the Caribbean.
They were playing on the beach, when suddenly, Messi and his family appeared! Messi then proceeded to play football with the children, including his own son, and Mackenzie O’Neill.
It was a very wholesome scene that went viral, as it showed how Messi is a down to earth guy that was just having some fun with some children, despite being the best soccer player in the world!
O’Neill and his mother talked about the experience in many newspapers and interviews, as the experience put them under the spotlight for quite some time.
O’Neill said that Messi couldn’t really speak English, so he was unable to directly communicate with him beyond playing soccer.
Messi’s wife, on the other hand, spoke English fluently and served as the intermediary between Messi and the holidaying family.
Yet again, it’s proof of Messi not speaking English. However, it does reveal that as his wife is fluent in English, he can go without learning the language, as she can easily be his personal translator! What a lucky coincidence!
Here is a Youtube video that relates the event, with everything that Mackenzie O’Neill said about Messi, including his lack of English speaking.
Does Messi understand English?
We know for sure that Messi doesn’t speak English, but what about understanding it?
After all, he has been exposed to English for most of his soccer career, due to traveling all over the world and partaking in many international events.
Not to mention all the press conferences and interviews that are hosted in English.
Surely, he must have picked enough of the language up to at least understand it, right?
It’s kind of hard to prove whether he understands English or not, as that isn’t something that we can see or hear.
However, upon watching many interviews and footage of Messi in international situations, we’re pretty confident in saying that he understands some basics, but not all.
Basically, Messi is likely to understand simple phrases and conversations, if spoken more or less slowly.
However, he struggles in more complex situations or in more advanced situations and just becomes lost, visibly confused, and needing a translation from someone.
Fun fact for you: whenever Ronaldo and Messi are in the same events together, Ronaldo acts as an informal translator for Messi!
Ronaldo has said so himself, and once he even joked about whether he should charge Messi for his services or not! So there you have it, Messi struggles with understanding English!
What languages does Messi understand and speak?
Now that it’s pretty clear that Messi does not speak any English at all, you might want to know what languages he actually does speak and understand.
It’s pretty obvious that Spanish is his first language, the one he was born and raised with, and the one he has used throughout his entire soccer career, as he has always played for Spanish speaking teams and has always lived in Spanish speaking countries.
But are there any other languages?
Well, Messi moved to Barcelona at the young age of 13, and he has since then been a part of the Barcelona soccer team, which he claims he will never leave.
Barcelona is in Catalonia, a region of Spain in which they have a second main language: Catalan.
So does Messi speak Catalan on top of Spanish?
All evidence throughout his soccer career points towards him understanding Catalan fluently. As for speaking it, Messi is half-way there.
He struggles with speaking Catalan, but can most definitely hold his own in a basic conversation. And, of course, he understands it perfectly, which is the most important thing!
Despite being one of the top soccer players in the world, Messi lacks in his language skills and doesn’t actually speak English.
He hasn’t really had the need for it, as he was born and raised in Argentina, where they speak Spanish, and he has since then always lived and played for Spanish teams and countries, where they obviously also speak Spanish.
He does understand Catalan, and maybe the simplest of English conversations.
But when it comes to communicating in English interviews or press conferences, Messi needs a trusty translator to avoid becoming confused!