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What Motivates Barcelona’s Lionel Messi To Be Such An Outstanding Footballer?

It is clear that Lionel Messi is a talented footballer with phenomenal skill but many wonder what it is that motivates Messi to be such an outstanding footballer? Lionel Andres Messi, the 24-year-old Argentinian forward for Barcelona FC has years of experience playing football for Barcelona even at such a young age. He began his career with Barcelona FC eleven years ago at the age of 13, playing for Barcelona’s under 14 program.

He continued to be promoted within Barcelona’s club from one level to the next quickly becoming a young star. At the age of 17, Messi made his league debut and soon after became the youngest player to score a league goal for Barcelona. He has continued to dominate the game season after season and recently became Barcelona’s all time top goal scorer, scoring more than 230 goals (“Messi 10”, 2012). Additionally, he has helped his team win 5 League Cups, 3 Champions League Cups, 1 Spanish League Cup, 2 UEFA Super Cups, 5 Spanish Super Cups, and two FIFA Club World Cups (“Messi 10”, 2012). He has led Barcelona in an impressive 2011/2012 season having played in 34 league matches, during which he has scored 41 goals winning a total of 25 games (“Messi 10,” 2012; “La Liga,” 2012).

Lionel Messi dominates the game with his tremendous individual skill and stellar performance. His techniques are beautifully delivered and he demonstrates outstanding marksmanship and superior accuracy. His composure on the pitch is graceful and his play is elegant yet passionate. He clearly is a player with many positive attributes. Lionel Messi portrays himself as a humble man who is dedicated to himself, his teammates, and his football club. When Lionel Messi is on the pitch the game is always entertaining and his performance is never disappointing. His continuous enthusiasm shines the moment he enters the pitch, which tends to be contagious to both his teammates and fans. Overall, his outstanding abilities and superior skills have been instrumental to Barcelona’s success.

It is evident that Lionel Messi has superior talent but what motivates him to be such an outstanding footballer? Could it be that intrinsic and extrinsic factors are motivating this brilliant footballer? For most athletes, motivating factors typically come from oneself (intrinsically) and others (extrinsically). If the motivating factor is intrinsic, a person does something because it is actually internally pleasurable (Ryan and Deci, 2000). It is likely that intrinsically, Messi’s performance is influenced by his personal desire to play the game and the internal genuine pleasure he experiences from learning and playing football. If the motivating factor is extrinsic, then a person does something because the action will lead to a separable outcome (Ryan and Deci, 2000). It is likely that extrinsically he plays football for his salary, endorsements, and the recognition of being an outstanding footballer. It is seems that all of these intrinsic and extrinsic motivating factors together enhance and sustain Messi’s motivation.

In conclusion and as implied above, Lionel Messi is clearly a talented and distinguished footballer. His skill and genuine passion for the game are truly remarkable and has been key to Barcelona’s success this season. However, it seems that there is more to Lionel Messi’s brilliant performance than his skill alone. It appears that intrinsic motivating factors such as his personal desire to play the game and the pleasure that he experiences while playing football, coupled with extrinsic motivating factors such as the recognition as an outstanding player; monetary reimbursements; the continued support from his teammates, football club, and endorsements; and the reciprocal relationship between Messi and his fans are what is motivating this brilliant footballer.

* Thank you to Barcelona FC and La Liga for up to date standings and statistics


La Liga. (2011/2012). Retrieved April 27, 2012 from
Messi 10. (2012). Retrieved April 26, 2012 from

Ryan, M., R., & Deci, E., L. (2000). Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations: Classical definitions and new directions. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25, 54-67.



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