Lionel Messi overwhelms defenders with his dazzling skills and footwork despite standing under 5’7” tall. What is the exact height of soccer great Messi, and how has it impacted his career? This guide examines Messi’s measurements, how his short stature shaped his play, comparisons to other players, and key takeaways about the global icon.

What is Lionel Messi’s Actual Height?

Lionel Messi’s officially listed height is 5 feet, 6.96 inches (170 cm).

So just a hair under 5 feet, 7 inches tall, or 1.69 meters. This makes Messi one of the shortest elite soccer players of the modern era.

But his explosive ability transcends typical size expectations.

When Did Messi Stop Growing?

Messi was born undersized, diagnosed with a deficiency in growth hormone production while a child.

  • At age 9, began medical treatment with daily growth hormone injections to combat short stature and enable normal development.
  • Reached a height of 5’4” tall by age 15, when most youth hit their largest growth spurts.
  • Stopped growing vertically by age 16. His final adult height settled around 5 feet, 7 inches.

While on the shorter side, medical assistance enabled Messi to maximize his genetic height potential.

How Messi’s Diminutive Height Shaped His Playing Style

While disadvantaged in size, Messi adapted his skillset to excel:

  • Lower center of gravity helps him change direction quicker than taller players and withstand physical challenges.
  • Lighter frame allows for bursts of acceleration and stops/starts that beat defenders.
  • Developed exceptionally quick feet and calf strength through youth drills to compensate for lack of height.
  • His small surface area makes it harder for opponents to dispossess him cleanly with tackles.

Messi’s playing style transformed his stature from a weakness into an advantage.

Messi’s Height Compared to Peers

Messi stands noticeably shorter than typical soccer elite players:

  • Cristiano Ronaldo: 6’2”
  • Neymar Jr: 5’9”
  • Kylian Mbappe: 5’10”
  • Harry Kane: 6’2”
  • Karim Benzema: 6’1”
  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic: 6’5”

The average height of a FIFA World Cup soccer player is 5’11”, with most teammates towering over Messi.

But by adapting his game, his diminished height became an edge.

Shortest Players in World Soccer Currently

Very few professional players measure shorter than Messi:

  • Jeremie Boga: 5’3”
  • Adama Traore: 5’5”
  • Angel Gomes: 5’4”
  • Juan Mata: 5’7”
  • Lorenzo Insigne: 5’4”

Sub-5’7” statures remain incredibly rare in the modern game favoring size and strength.

Do Soccer Scouts Overlook Short Players?

Historically scouts discounted shorter prospects, but Messi’s success challenges conventional height preferences:

  • Youth and academy coaches once avoided players significantly below average height, believing size was required to avoid getting physically overwhelmed.
  • Messi’s ballon d’Or dominance opens minds that all heights deserve chances if skills justify it.
  • Scouting combines now dedicate less weight to pure height metrics compared to technical abilities, speed, and intelligence.
  • Shorter prospects must showcase elite attributes early to earn opportunities previously denied.

Messi’s influence allows more late bloomers and smaller players to earn chances through merit.

Did Pele Consider Messi Too Short to Succeed Initially?

Yes, even legendary short striker Pele doubted Messi’s potential early on:

  • When scouts first brought Messi to Pele’s soccer academy in Brazil as a boy, Pele believed he was too undersized to develop enough.
  • Pele later admitted underestimating Messi’s ability to overcome his smaller frame through technical quality.
  • Like Pele before him, Messi became the example proving height matters less than skill, intelligence, and work ethic.

Is Messi Shorter Than Maradona?

Messi stands an inch shorter than legendary countryman Diego Maradona:

  • Maradona: 5 feet, 5 inches tall (1.65 meters)
  • Messi: 5 feet, 6.96 inches tall (1.69 meters)

Both used low centers of gravity and insane dribbling skills to mystify defenders. But Messi achieved unprecedented team success at the international level Maradona lacked.

Key Physical Advantages Messi Holds Despite Height

In addition to technical genius, Messi boasts:

  • Blazing top speed to beat defenders downfield.
  • Strength to shield ball from far larger opponents.
  • Jumping power and vertical leap to win aerial challenges.
  • Durability and injury resilience from years of growth treatments.
  • Stamina to press and attack relentlessly for 90+ minutes.

Height matters less with sufficient physical and mental strengths in other areas.

Reasons Short Players Like Messi Succeed in Soccer

Beyond just Messi, shorter players can thrive by:

  • Developing superior technical skills and close control.
  • Maximizing pace and acceleration to gain separation.
  • Cultivating low centers of gravity and tight turns.
  • Improving aerial abilities despite height through positioning and leaping.
  • Studying tactics to gain every fractional edge.

Lacking size demands short players hone every other aspect to a world-class level.

Notable Short Soccer Legends Besides Messi

Other all-time great diminutive talents:

  • Ferenc Puskas: 5’6”
  • Romario: 5’6”
  • Michel Platini: 5’7”
  • Xavi: 5’7”
  • Santi Cazorla: 5’6”
  • Fabio Cannavaro: 5’7”
  • Franco Baresi: 5’7”

Like Messi, their technical brilliance overshadowed any size deficit.

Key Takeaways on Lionel Messi’s Height

  • Lionel Messi stands 5 feet, 6.96 inches tall – just under 5’7″.
  • Growth hormone deficiency in childhood limited his height potential.
  • His low center of gravity and light frame enable tight turns and bursts.
  • Messi towers over opponents with talent, not size.
  • Pele and scouts once doubted he could thrive at elite level due to stature.
  • He motivated smaller players traditionally overlooked for higher upside.

Messi demonstrates height matters far less than dedication, smarts, and excellence mastering the ball. His legacy will be inspiring the next generation of soccer wizards, no matter their size.

Frequently Asked Questions About Lionel Messi’s Height

How tall is Lionel Messi in feet and inches?

Lionel Messi is 5 feet, 6.96 inches tall according to his official listed height. That equals almost 5’7″.

What health condition affected Messi’s height growing up?

Messi was diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency, preventing him from growing taller without medical treatment. Daily hormone injections helped expand his height closer to a normal range.

How does Messi’s height compare to Cristiano Ronaldo?

Cristiano Ronaldo has about 7 inches on Messi, standing 6’2″ tall versus Messi’s 5’7″. Ronaldo uses size to leap and power through defenders.

Who is considered the greatest soccer player under 5’7″?

Most experts proclaim Lionel Messi the most dominant undersized soccer legend ever. His blend of skills and accomplishments over a 15+ year career outpaces even fellow great short players like Xavi, Romario and Maradona.

Does Messi’s shorter height give him any advantages on the pitch?

Yes, his low center of gravity aids his balance, tight turns, and strength to hold off defenders. His light frame also allows quick bursts of acceleration. Being smaller made his technical mastery even more dazzling.

How did Messi have the stamina to press and attack for 90+ minutes per match?

His growth hormone condition actually enhanced natural levels of testosterone and IGF1, gifting him with exceptional stamina. Plus a lifelong active lifestyle increased lung capacity and conditioning.

Does Messi win as many aerial challenges as taller players?

Remarkably, yes. Despite standing nearly a foot shorter than the average defender, Messi has learned to use positioning, smarts, and incredible leaping skill to win 55-60% of aerials – similar to 6-foot strikers.

Messi provides enduring inspiration that any barrier, including height, can be conquered through dedicated training, intelligent development, and a love for the sport. He changed perceptions of what’s possible, forever raising the bar.


Categories: Soccer


  • Tom Eddy

    Tom Eddy is the founder and CEO of Poll Position, a leading sports news and opinion website. Eddy founded Poll Position driven by a vision of creating an innovative digital media brand focused exclusively on sports journalism. Under Eddy's leadership, Poll Position has grown from a solo blog into one of the most visited online destinations for sports coverage. Eddy Tom


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