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Why Is Messi Nicknamed La Pulga?

Lionel Messi in his Barcelona uniform on the soccer field

Lionel Messi has consistently been one of the best footballers in the world. He will go down as an all-time great when it’s all said and done. Many different qualities define an all-time great, with one of them being a nickname.

The Argentinian has been called many things throughout his career, but one nickname that has stuck around for some time is La Pulga.

Why Is Messi Nicknamed La Pulga? The nickname La Pulga for Messi stems back to his early days as a player. It means “the flea” in Spanish and is the grown-up version of La Pulgita (little flea) that his two older brothers used when he was a youngster.

Lionel Messi
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What is La Pulga meaning and why is Lionel Messi called ‘La Pulga’?

The nickname ‘La Pulga’ was given to Messi during his early years as a young, professional player. Standing at just 5 feet 7 inches tall, Messi’s small stature and quick movements on the field reminded people of a flea.

The term ‘Pulga’ is often associated with Messi due to his innate ability to navigate through opponents effortlessly, change direction with great agility, and quickly escape tight spaces with his quick footwork, just like a flea. It reflects his innate ability of remarkable speed, agility, and evasiveness, making him a challenging player to catch or mark.

Over the years, Messi has embraced the nickname ‘La Pulga’, and it has become synonymous with his playing style and persona. It showcases his unique qualities and has become an endearing term that fans and football enthusiasts use to refer to him.

With his incredible agility and lightning-fast changes of direction, the legend has earned himself a cool nickname in the Spanish media: “La Pulga Atomica,” which translates to “The Atomic Flea.”

In conclusion, Lionel Messi’s nickname ‘La Pulga’ represents his extraordinary skills and abilities on the football pitch, perfectly capturing his agility, speed, and elusive playing style.

How Size Played a Role in Lionel Messi’s Nickname

The story of Lionel Messi is a weird one for those who have never heard it before. He had a growth hormone deficiency at an early age, preventing him from growing at the same rate as his peers.

He had all the soccer promise in the world, but he was so small that it was getting in the way of a possible professional career.

Treatment for growth hormone deficiency proved to be very expensive. FC Barcelona saw the promise of Messi as a soccer player, vowing to pay for his treatments if he signed a contract to come over and train with them. It ended up being a perfect move for both sides.

Messi received the best training possible to become a pro player, and the growth hormone treatment proved successful. FC Barcelona enjoyed years of success from one of the greatest players ever to play.

The growth hormones allowed him to get his height up to 5‘7“ tall. Even though he is a fairly short player across professional soccer, he likely would not have been tall enough without the growth hormones to compete at the highest level.

He uses his shorter stature to his advantage, being close to the ground and moving around with ease. He’s able to sneak around a lot of ways on the field so that he avoids defenders and opens up scoring opportunities.

What Other Nicknames Does Messi Have?

This is not the only nickname for Lionel Messi. In fact, he has many nicknames that people have used throughout his illustrious career.

The most standard one is Leo Messi, or simply Messi. Sure, that doesn’t necessarily constitute a nickname in the eyes of some, but it is a shortened version of his full name. A lot of soccer players go by one name, so it was only a matter of time before Lionel Messi became simply Messi.

Messi is also referred to sometimes as the G.O.A.T, as it’s an acronym for the Greatest of All Time. While that title is certainly up to debate, a lot of people have started to gravitate toward him getting that label.

The Messiah is a combination of Messi and Messiah. It’s a way to show his dominance and overall superiority compared to everyone else. At times, he is treated like a god-like figure in the sport.

His dominance continued last year while leading Argentina to a World Cup victory, Messi’s first World Cup win.

The Magician is another name that has been thrown around from time to time. He can pull off many moves that are impossible for other players. Being able to do so much can even surprise the best defenders in the world.

Finally, if there’s anyone who can compare to Lionel Messi in Argentina’s soccer history, it’s Diego Maradona. Combining the two names is something that fans have done from time to time. Calling Messi by the name Messadona is shown as a way to indicate just how great he’s been.

Does Messi Like His Nickname?

Messi, La Pulga Atomica, wearing his orange Barcelona warm up jacket

There are instances where players might not necessarily like nicknames that were given to them. For Lionel Messi, he seems to be pretty okay with all of his different nicknames.

He’s a relatively calm individual in the first place, so not much gets him riled up. He’s never formally complained much at all about any nicknames given to him.

So players get a little bit offended when people make fun of their height or something else they can’t control consistently. Messi is fully aware that he is one of the smaller players, and he is capable of laughing at himself a bit when people recognize his lack of height.

Will Messi Ever Pick Up Any Additional Nicknames?

Most players at Messi’s stage in his career have already received the nicknames that they will have for the rest of their lives. With that said, something could change that sparks a new nickname at some point.

As we mentioned earlier, about the only nickname that could start to spark up more would be the GOAT. Some people already feel he is the greatest player of all time. Fans argue frequently whether Cristiano Ronaldo or Messi is the GOAT. It’s hard to say, out of all past players and present players, who is the greatest player of all time, but clearly, a case can be made for this Fifa World Cup champion.

Why La Pulga Has Stuck Around For So Long

What started as a little bit of a teasing nickname from older brothers has stuck around for a long time because of how he plays the game.

Being called a flea might not be the most endearing nickname ever, but it allows him to be perfectly described on the field. He can be annoying to the opposition, and that’s exactly what a small flea does in the real world.

Fans should feel confident to call him this nickname, as he’s never said he hates it. Of course, just calling him by his last name seems to be the most common way to reference him. For a player as good as he is, one name is all that’s necessary.

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