September 22, 2023
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Lionel Messi, the Argentine maestro and one of the greatest footballers of all time, has left an indelible mark on the world of football with his extraordinary talent and numerous accolades. While Messi’s skills and achievements are widely celebrated, there is a curiosity surrounding his disciplinary record, particularly in relation to red cards. In this article, we will delve into the number of red cards Lionel Messi has received throughout his illustrious career. By examining notable incidents and analyzing Messi’s approach to the game, we aim to shed light on his disciplinary history and provide insights into his remarkable ability to avoid red card offenses. Join us as we explore the fascinating question: How many red cards does Lionel Messi have?

Lionel Messi: A Brief Overview

Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi

Before delving into the specifics of Messi’s red card record, let’s take a moment to appreciate the incredible journey of this Argentine maestro. Messi was born on June 24, 1987, in Rosario, Argentina, Messi’s passion for football ignited at a young age. He honed his skills at FC Barcelona’s esteemed youth academy, La Masia, eventually ascending to the senior team and etching his name in football history.

How Many Red Cards Does Lionel Messi Have?

How Many Red Cards Does Lionel Messi Have?

Lionel Messi’s red card record is notably scarce compared to his extensive career and the number of matches he has played. As of the knowledge cutoff in September 2021, Messi has received a total of three red cards. It is essential to emphasize that this low figure demonstrates Messi’s exemplary conduct and discipline on the field. Let’s examine these notable incidents:

August 2005 – Argentina vs. Hungary

August 2005 Argentina vs Hungary

One of the earliest red card incidents in Lionel Messi’s career occurred in a match between Argentina and Hungary in August 2005. This incident took place during Messi’s initial games representing the Argentina national team at the youth level. In this particular match, Messi was shown a red card for a second bookable offense, specifically a foul on Vilmos Vanczák.

Although receiving a red card is never an ideal situation for any player, especially at the beginning of one’s international career, it is crucial to note that such incidents can also serve as valuable learning experiences. Messi’s red card in this match highlighted the challenges and pressures that come with playing at the highest level of the game.

June 2019 – Copa América Third-Place Match

Copa América Third Place Match

Another significant red card incident involving Lionel Messi took place during the Copa América third-place match in June 2019. This match, contested between Argentina and Chile, witnessed a fiery moment that resulted in Messi being shown a straight red card. The incident occurred after a scuffle with Chilean defender Gary Medel, leading to both players being sent off.

This particular red card incident attracted considerable attention and debate due to the intense nature of the competition and the emotions running high on the field. It showcased the passion and intensity that can sometimes lead to regrettable actions, even for a player as composed as Messi. It serves as a reminder that football is a sport fueled by emotions and moments of heated rivalry.

January 2021 – FC Barcelona vs. Athletic Bilbao

FC Barcelona vs Athletic Bilbao

The most recent red card incident involving Lionel Messi occurred in a La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao in January 2021. Messi was sent off with a straight red card following a challenge on Asier Villalibre. This incident attracted significant attention as it marked a rare occurrence of Messi being shown a red card while playing for his beloved club.

The incident demonstrated that even the most talented and experienced players can find themselves in contentious situations on the field. Despite Messi’s typically composed demeanor, this particular challenge proved to be costly, resulting in his dismissal from the match. Such incidents highlight the intensity and competitiveness of professional football and the split-second decisions players must make.

Read more: How Many Red Cards Does Ronaldo Have?

Why Doesn’t Messi Get Many Red Cards?

Why Doesn't Messi Get Many Red Cards

Lionel Messi, widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, possesses exceptional talent and a commendable level of sportsmanship. One notable aspect of Messi’s career is his remarkably low red card record. Let’s explore the factors that contribute to Messi’s rarity in receiving red cards.

Technical Prowess and Control

One of the primary reasons Messi avoids receiving red cards is his exceptional technical prowess and control over the ball. His impeccable dribbling skills, agility, and close ball control enable him to navigate through tight spaces, avoid reckless challenges, and maintain possession even under intense pressure. By keeping a calm and composed approach, Messi minimizes the chances of engaging in situations that may lead to red card offenses.

Tactical Awareness and Decision Making

Messi’s tactical awareness and decision-making abilities are crucial elements that contribute to his low red card count. He possesses an innate understanding of the game, allowing him to make precise judgments in high-pressure situations. Messi’s exceptional vision and anticipation enable him to choose the most advantageous options, reducing the likelihood of engaging in actions that could result in disciplinary measures.

Professionalism and Fair Play

Messi’s exemplary professionalism and commitment to fair play are central to his limited red card incidents. Throughout his career, he has consistently displayed respect for the rules and regulations of the game. Messi’s unwavering dedication to fair play sets an example for players around the world, emphasizing the importance of integrity and sportsmanship.

Exceptional Discipline and Composure

Maintaining discipline and composure is crucial in football, and Messi exemplifies these qualities on the pitch. Despite facing aggressive opponents and enduring intense rivalries, he rarely allows his emotions to get the better of him. Messi’s ability to remain calm and focused even in the most challenging situations significantly reduces the risk of engaging in actions that could lead to red cards.

Respectful Conduct towards Referees

Respectful conduct towards referees is another factor that contributes to Messi’s low red card count. He understands the significance of maintaining a positive relationship with match officials and refrains from dissent or confrontations that could result in disciplinary actions. Messi’s respectful attitude towards referees showcases his professionalism and contributes to his positive image as a player.


In conclusion, Lionel Messi’s red card record is remarkably low considering his illustrious career. Throughout his journey, he has received a total of three red cards. Despite being a player of exceptional skill and intensity, Messi’s ability to maintain composure and display fair play has contributed to his limited red card count. How many red cards does Lionel Messi have? Three. This statistic is a testament to his exceptional discipline and respect for the game, further solidifying his legacy as a true icon of football.

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