Lionel Messi quotes: What have football’s biggest names said about him?

  • Rob Swan
The greatest quotes about Lionel Messi, 35 today, from the biggest names in football

Lionel Messi turns 35 on June 24, 2022, and this sadly means that we’re another birthday closer to the day football fans are all dreading.

Football after Messi almost doesn’t bear thinking about but the great man will inevitably hang up his boots at some point in the not-too-distant future.

Hopefully he goes on to play well into his late-30s – or better still, early 40s – but the day of Messi’s retirement is closer than many of us want to believe.

As Messi celebrates his 35th birthday, we’ve decided to collate the greatest quotes about the Paris Saint-Germain and Argentina forward from the biggest names in football.

It’s hard to believe there’s been another footballer in history who has received such widespread admiration from so many icons of past and present.

Lionel Messi
PAMPLONA, SPAIN – JUNE 05: Lionel Messi of Argentina reacts during the international friendly match between Argentina and Estonia at Estadio El Sadar on June 05, 2022 in Pamplona, Spain. (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)

So, without further ado, let’s take a closer look at what football’s greatest have said about the player many believe is the GOAT.

Johan Cruyff

“For the world of football, Messi is a treasure because he is a role model for children around the world… Messi will be the player to win the most Ballons d’Or in history. He will win five, six, seven. He is incomparable. He’s in a different league.”

Cruyff on Messi
BARCELONA, SPAIN – MARCH 29: A supporter wearing a FC Barcelona shirt with a message saying ‘Thanks Johan’ in catalan pays tribute to late Dutch football star Johan Cruyff in a special condolence area set up at Camp Nou stadium on March 29, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain. Former player and coach of FC Barcelona Johan Cruyff died on March 24, 2016 at the age of 68 after losing a battle with lung cancer. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Arsene Wenger

“Who is the Best Player in the World? Leo Messi. Who is the Best Player Ever? Leo Messi.”

Xavi

“It is clear that Messi is on a level above all others. Those who do not see that are blind.”

Messi and Xavi
BARCELONA, SPAIN – APRIL 28: Xavi of Barcelona talks to team mate Lionel Messi during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final Second Leg match between Barcelona and Inter Milan at Camp Nou on April 28, 2010 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Jose Mourinho

“Messi is the god of football. When Messi has the ball, one on one, you’re dead.”​

Luis Figo

“For me, to watch Messi play is a pleasure – it’s like having an orgasm – it’s an incredible pleasure.”

Luis Figo on Messi
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – JUNE 02: Luis Figo of Real Madrid in action during the match between Manchester United Legends and Real Madrid Legends at Old Trafford on June 2, 2013 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Carles Puyol

“This Barca will be remembered as Messi’s Barca. He’s well above anything else I’ve ever seen. He’s an alien.”

Puyol on Messi
BARCELONA, SPAIN – DECEMBER 21: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona receives the trophy as best player of November in the Spanish La Liga from Carles Puyol before the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Deportivo Alaves at Camp Nou on December 21, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Alan Shearer

“Messi the best ever. Goals. Skill. Work rate. Attitude. An artist.”

Shearer on Messi

Paul Scholes

“I think about the great players with whom I have shared a pitch: Eric Cantona, Zinedine Zidane, Pirlo, Xavi, Ronaldo and the greatest of them all is Messi.”

Scholes on Messi
MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM – APRIL 29: Paul Scholes of Manchester United pressurises Lionel Messi of Barcelona during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final, second leg match between Manchester United and Barcelona at Old Trafford on April 29, 2008 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)

Luis Enrique

“Messi is the best in the world without any doubt and for me the history of football.”

Luis Enrique on Messi
MADRID, SPAIN – MAY 27: Head coach Luis Enrique Martinez (R) hugs his player Lionel Messi (L) after winning the Copa Del Rey Final between FC Barcelona and Deportivo Alaves at Vicente Calderon Stadium on May 27, 2017 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

Samuel Eto’o

“Messi is God, as a person and even more as a player. I knew him when he was a boy and I’ve watched him grow. He deserves it all.”

Eto'o on Messi
BARCELONA, SPAIN – MARCH 10: Lionel Messi (L) of Barcelona celebrates with Samuel Eto’o after scoring Barcelona’s first goal during the Primera Liga match between Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Nou Camp stadium on March 10, 2007 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

Steven Gerrard

“Lionel Messi for me. I’m someone who would never say a derogatory thing about Ronaldo because he’s another phenomena. They’re the two in our era. The numbers — I’m not sure who’s going to do that again.”

Jurgen Klopp

“I have coached a few really good players. My dad liked Pele, but Messi is the best ever.”

Klopp Messi
MILAN, ITALY – SEPTEMBER 23: (L-R) The Best FIFA Men’s Player of the Year Lionel Messi, The Best FIFA Women’s Coach of the Year Jill Ellis, The Best FIFA Men’s Coach of the Year Juergen Klopp and The Best FIFA Women’s Player of the Year Megan Rapinoe during The Best FIFA Football Awards 2019 at the Teatro alla Scala on September 23, 2019 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)

Cesc Fabregas

“You can expect anything from Leo. He is the best player in history, we have never seen anyone like him.”

Fabregas on Messi
BARCELONA, SPAIN – APRIL 03: Lionel Messi (R) of Barcelona celebrates with team-mate Cesc Fabregas after scoring the opening goal during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg match between FC Barcelona and AC Milan at the Camp Nou stadium on April 3, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)

Diego Maradona

“I have seen the player who will inherit my place in Argentine football and his name is Messi. Messi is a genius.”

Maradona on Messi
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – JUNE 27: Diego Maradona head coach of Argentina gestures to Lionel Messi of Argentina during to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Round of Sixteen match between Argentina and Mexico at Soccer City Stadium on June 27, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Wayne Rooney

“I just think Messi is, in my eyes, the greatest ever.”

Javier Mascherano

“Although he may not be human, it’s good that Messi still thinks he is.”

Mascherano on Messi
BARCELONA, SPAIN – AUGUST 17: Lionel Messi (L) of FC Barcelona is congratulated by his teammate Javier Mascherano (R) after scoring his team’s third goal during the Spanish Super Cup Final second leg match between FC Barcelona and Sevilla FC at Camp Nou on August 17, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

“Messi does not need his right foot. He only uses the left and he’s still the best in the world. Imagine if he also used his right foot, Then we would have serious problems.”

Pele

“I like Messi a lot, he’s a great player. Technically, we’re practically at the same level.”

Pele on Messi
31 Oct 2000: Pele during an AXA photocall at Wembley in London. \ Mandatory Credit: Clive Mason /Allsport

Zinedine Zidane

“He is always going forwards. He never passes the ball backwards or sideways. He has only one idea, to run towards the goal. So as a football fan, just enjoy the show.”

Zidane on Messi
PARIS, FRANCE – MARCH 26: Former French international, Zinedine Zidane walks on the field prior to the International Friendly match between France and Brazil at the Stade de France on March 26, 2015 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Sir Alex Ferguson

“Lionel Messi could play in the 1950s and the present day, as could Di Stefano, Pele, Maradona, Cruyff because they are all great players. Lionel Messi without question comes into that category.”

Arjen Robben

“He is the best player in the world. For me he is from another planet, he is the best, very different.”

robben messi
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL – JULY 09: Arjen Robben of the Netherlands challenges Lionel Messi of Argentina during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Semi Final match between the Netherlands and Argentina at Arena de Sao Paulo on July 9, 2014 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Thiago Alcantara

“People often say to me they saw Pele and Maradona play. In the future, I will be able to say I saw Messi play.”

Thiago Alcantara on Messi
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – JANUARY 17: Thiago Alcantara of Liverpool gives their team instructions during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on January 17, 2021 in Liverpool, England. Sporting stadiums around England remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Ryan Giggs

“Messi is a genius, he’s a once in a lifetime player. It’s as simple as that.”

Ryan Giggs on Messi
LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 28: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona (C) is challenged by Ryan Giggs (L) and Michael Carrick of Manchester United during the UEFA Champions League final between FC Barcelona and Manchester United FC at Wembley Stadium on May 28, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Gary Lineker

“Fella’s a genius. Best ever by a distance in my life time. Never really saw Pele… Souness, Gullit, Venables and now Rooney agree Messi is the best they have seen. He plays a game with which we are not familiar.”

Michael Owen

“I can’t believe anyone can have played the game of football as well as Messi.”

Michael Owen on Messi
LEEDS, ENGLAND – MARCH 10: Michael Owen looks on prior to the Premier League match between Leeds United and Aston Villa at Elland Road on March 10, 2022 in Leeds, England. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

Neymar (After Argentina beat Brazil in 2021 Copa America final)

“When I lost, I went to give a hug to the biggest and best in history that I saw playing.”

Neymar on Messi
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – JULY 10: Neymar Jr. of Brazil greets Lionel Messi of Argentina as Lautaro Martinez of Argentina prepares for kick off prior to the final of Copa America Brazil 2021 between Brazil and Argentina at Maracana Stadium on July 10, 2021 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Wagner Meier/Getty Images)

John Terry

“Lionel Messi is quite clearly the best player ever. It’s a pleasure to pit myself against him and when I finish my career it’s something I can look back on and know I’ve tested myself against the very best.”

John Terry messi
LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 06: John Terry of Chelsea battles for the ball with Lionel Messi of Barcelona during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final Second Leg match between Chelsea and Barcelona at Stamford Bridge on May 6, 2009 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Gianluigi Buffon (on meeting Messi in 2013)

“I had to touch Messi to make sure he was human like us.”

Thierry Henry

“I have seen him doing stuff in training and it is just amazing. When he gets upset, he runs around the whole team. There is nothing you can do. When you have Leo Messi it is a big advantage. When you have that man in your side, anything can happen.”

Pep Guardiola

“Don’t write about him, don’t try to describe him. Just watch him.”

Sergio Ramos

“Messi is one of the best in the world, if not the best.”

ramos messi
PARIS, FRANCE – AUGUST 14: New signings, Achraf Hakimi, Georginio Wijnaldum, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Sergio Ramos and Lionel Messi of Paris Saint-Germain pose for a photo as they are introduced to the fans prior to the Ligue 1 Uber Eats match between Paris Saint Germain and Strasbourg at Parc des Princes on August 14, 2021 in Paris, France. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Raul

“I was lucky enough to play with Zidane, Ronaldo, Figo, Cristiano… but Messi is different. He makes everything look so easy, so effortless – even the impossible. When you watch him play, it’s almost as though you are watching him in the street playing with his mates.”

Raul on Messi
MADRID, SPAIN – SEPTEMBER 24: Raul Gonzalez celebrates scoring his second goal, the 7-1, during the La Liga match between Real Madrid and Real Sporting de Gijon at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on September 24, 2008 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)

Franz Beckenbauer

“Messi is a genius. He has everything. When I watch him, I see a player who is very, very, skilful, very clever and his left foot is like Diego Maradona’s.”

Franz Beckenbauer  Messi
KITZBUHEL, AUSTRIA – NOVEMBER 23: German soccer legend Franz Beckenbauer is pictured during an interview with Sport Bild on November 23, 2009 in Kitzbuhel, Austria. (Photo by Miguel Villagran/Getty Images)

Roy Keane

“I was a big fan of Maradona growing up and of the current crop Ronaldo is good but Messi is the best I’ve ever seen. I don’t dish out praise lightly but Messi deserves it. I look for weaknesses in his game and I can’t find them.”

roy keane Messi
LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 08: Pundit, Roy Keane looks on following the international friendly match between England and Wales at Wembley Stadium on October 08, 2020 in London, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Nick Potts – Pool/Getty Images)

Franck Ribery

“Messi is class. There is him, and then there is the rest. What he does is extraordinary.”

ribery messi
MARSEILLE, FRANCE – FEBRUARY 11: Lionel Messi (c) of Argentina dribbles towards Lassana Diarra (l) as Franck Ribery (r) looks on during the International Friendly match between France and Argentina at the Stade Velodrome on February 11, 2009 in Marseille, France. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Fernando Torres

“Messi is the best. I have not seen or will ever see a player like Lionel Messi. He dominates all aspects of the game. He is the absolute best in 90 per cent of the categories.”

Fernando Torres  on Messi
MADRID, SPAIN – DECEMBER 22: Former Atletico de Madrid player Fernando Torres waves the audience as he attends a tribute in honor of his former teammate Gabi Fernandez after the La Liga match between Club Atletico de Madrid and RCD Espanyol at Wanda Metropolitano on December 22, 2018 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

David Beckham

“[Messi] is alone in his class as a player, it is impossible that there is another like him.”

Beckham on Messi
PARIS, FRANCE – APRIL 02: David Beckham (R) of PSG shakes hands with Lionel Messi of Barcelona ahead of the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final match between Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona FCB at Parc des Princes on April 2, 2013 in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Radamel Falcao

“Is Messi a real player or a PlayStation character?”

falcao messi
ZURICH, SWITZERLAND – JANUARY 07: Radamel Falcao and Lionel Messi of Argentina cheer during the red carpet arrivals of the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala 2013 at Congress House on January 7, 2013 in Zurich, Switzerland. (Photo by Harold Cunningham/Getty Images)

Arda Turan

“I have never seen anything like Leo Messi. He is a miracle from God!”

Arda Turan messi
BARCELONA, SPAIN – DECEMBER 06: Arda Turan of Barcelona (L) celebrates scoring his sides fourth goal with Lionel Messi of Barcelona (R) during the UEFA Champions League Group C match between FC Barcelona and VfL Borussia Moenchengladbach at Camp Nou on December 6, 2016 in Barcelona, . (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Sergio Aguero

“We are talking about the best ever, and he will remain so.”

Sergio Aguero messi
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL – JULY 06: Sergio Aguero of Argentina celebrates after scoring the opening goal with teammate Lionel Messi during the Copa America Brazil 2019 Third Place match between Argentina and Chile at Arena Corinthians on July 06, 2019 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images)

Kylian Mbappe

“It’s easy to play with Lionel Messi. He’s the best player in the world.”

Kylian Mbappe messi
MADRID, SPAIN – MARCH 09: Kylian Mbappe of Paris Saint-Germain celebrates after scoring his team’s first goal with Lionel Messi of Paris Saint-Germain during the UEFA Champions League Round Of Sixteen Leg Two match between Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on March 09, 2022 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Cristiano Ronaldo

“I have no doubt that Messi has made me a better player and vice-versa. I have an excellent professional relationship [with him] because we have been sharing the same moments for 15 years. We’ve never had dinner together but I don’t see why we can’t in the future. I don’t see a problem with that.”

QUIZ: Can you get 20/20 on our Ultimate Lionel Messi quiz?

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