Not So Mr Nice Guy! 7 Times Lionel Messi Really Hasn't Lived Up to His Good Boy Billing

Andrew Headspeath

​ You might pick sides in the eternal Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo debate. However, when it comes to who has the cleaner public perception, there's only one clear winner: Messi.

The four-time Champions League winner's four-game ban for ranting and raving at an assistant referee certainly came as a shock to many around the world, but it wasn't totally out of character.

In fact, it turns it Messi has as many controversial moments in his career as he does medals...well, not really, but you get the point.

Here's seven times the footballing God turned into a bit of a devil... ​

Headbutt on Darijo Srna

Despite being part of Spain's first treble winning club side back in 2009, Messi still managed to get annoyed about Shakhtar Donetsk stalwart Darijo Srna blocking his shot, or something.

The two had a fairly innocuous altercation, before the five-time Ballon d'Or winner went in for the Glasgow kiss. 

The referee gave Messi a yellow, but he was still man of the match as Barcelona picked up yet another piece of silverware.

Defying Guardiola/'Cokegate'

According to widely-circulated quotes from an interview with ex-New York Red Bulls boss Hans Backe (who also coached ex-Barca stars Thierry Henry and Rafael Marquez), Messi once openly defied manager Pep Guardiola by drinking a can of Coca Cola before a match when specifically instructed not to.

Be honest, you were expecting something worse when you read 'Cokegate', weren't you?

Grappling with Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa

Bizarrely, Messi's on the pitch tantrums seem to always get the better of him in the least stressful occasions.

This time a friendly between Roma and Barcelona got weird as Messi squared up to former Newcastle defender Yanga-Mbiwa, grabbing him by the throat, and likely only escaped a red card thanks to the context of the fixture.

Once again, Lionel had the last laugh when he scored just seven minutes later.

Arguing With Manchester City Coach Mikel Arteta

Reports claim Messi took exception to Arteta's over-exuberant celebrations in the tunnel at the Etihad, and shouted at the former La Masia graduate calling him "stupid" before ordering him to: “go and enjoy yourself in the dressing room. Do not do this here.”

Man City insisted after the game that their coach Arteta did nothing to provoke Messi and international teammate Sergio Aguero had to step in to try and calm him down.

"Leo wasn’t in the mood to talk and I respect that,” Aguero said. Oh dear.

Blonde Hair

I don't care what the stats were, that was a naff cut.  There are some regrettable tattoos in there too.


Last summer, Messi and his dad were both found guilty of tax fraud and were handed suspended 21-month prison sentences as well as receiving fine of over €1m each. Ouch.

Four-Game Ban for Effing/Jeffing at the Assistant Ref

The latest indiscretion to tarnish the squeaky clean reputation of Messi.

The Argentina captain was handed a four-game ban by FIFA, following an apparent verbal tirade against of an assistant referee, during an Argentina World Cup qualifier.

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