The Lionel Messi penalty vs. AC Milan in 2011 that saw him receive a yellow card

Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel M

Lionel Messi is arguably the greatest footballer of all time, which makes his inconsistency from the penalty spot all the more baffling.

The Barcelona and Argentina superstar has scored 83 penalties during his career but has missed 25, giving him a successful conversion percentage of 76.85.

This means that Messi misses, on average, one in every four penalties he takes. For a player of his technical ability, that’s surprisingly poor.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s success rate from the penalty spot, by comparison, is 82.22 per cent.

As well as Ronaldo, Messi’s penalty conversation percentage is inferior to the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Paulo Dybala, Neymar and even Sergio Ramos.

It just shows that the pressure that comes with taking a penalty can affect any player - including the world’s greatest.

But did you know that Messi was once booked while taking a spot-kick for Barcelona?

In a Champions League match against AC Milan at the San Siro, Messi had the opportunity to put his team 2-1 up. All he needed to do was beat Christian Abbiati in the Milan goal.

On this occasion, though, Messi tried something a little different.


Rather than stepping up and hitting the penalty with his trusty left foot immediately, Messi paused after his run-up.

Abbiati went to ground and Messi tucked the ball home.

However, German referee Wolfgang Stark booked Messi for unsporting behaviour and ordered the superstar to re-take the spot-kick.


Messi did just that - and scored for a second time.

Watch the incident in full here...

But why was Messi booked?

Well, in 2010 - a year before Barça’s clash against Milan - the International Football Association Board made a subtle rule change regarding penalties.

"Feinting in the run-up to take a penalty kick to confuse opponents is permitted," said FIFA’s Jerome Valcke said at the time.

"However, feinting to kick the ball once the player has completed his run-up is now considered an infringement."

Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel M

By stopping at the end of his run-up and then kicking the ball, Messi had committed an infringement and subsequently went into the referee’s notebook.

If only this style of penalty taking was permitted: Messi’s penalty conversion percentage would probably look a lot more impressive all these years later.

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