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What's behind Messi's 5 Most Iconic Celebrations

What's behind Messi's 5 Most Iconic Celebrations

Posted by Juan Gavasa on April 25, 2017

When Lionel Messi struck to win El Clasico for Barcelona in the final minutes at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday, he ensured several things were true at once.

In the first instance, the fight for the title in La Liga will continue somewhat longer, with Real Madrid having missed the chance to extend their lead at the top. They are now level on points with Messi's Barcelona, although they still have a game in hand.

Secondly, the Argentina international managed to rack up his 500th club goal, further writing his name into the record books.

And finally, Messi ensured another iconic moment would be associated with him, thanks to his goal celebration: shirt out, name displayed, unnecessarily reminding the Real Madrid fans of just who he is.

The Barca No. 10 is fond of a celebration which sticks in the mind, and his Bernabeu sign-off is just the latest; here we identify five others and learn the stories behind them.

Pointing Skywards

The most often seen and noticeable Messi celebration, Barca's star man will frequently point a finger on each hand towards the skies as he makes his way back to the centre-circle.

Regardless of whether he celebrates his goal with another gesture or symbolic act, Messi tends to repeat the skyward trait as well—and it's not one he's likely to give up any time soon.

Celia Olivera Cuccittini is the person to whom each and every one of those goals are dedicated: Messi's grandmother, who passed away in 1998. It was she who encouraged a young Leo to play, she who took him to matches, and who thus played a huge role in shaping the path of perhaps the greatest-ever footballer.

Messi spoke of the celebration at a UNICEF convention, as reported by Marca (h/t Goal) in 2010, while Cristina Cubero of Mundo Deportivo (in Spanish) reported Messi's words on the same celebration the year previous:

Perhaps every Barcelona fan—every football fan—who has admired Messi's footwork, spectacular play or one of his goals, should be thankful to the late Sra. Cuccittini.

Thumb Suck

As mentioned, Messi will at times bring out an alternative celebration before the sky-pointing commences, marking a particularly special strike or momentous occasion with its own image.

The Argentinian might be a world-famous footballer, but he's also quite the family man; he now has two sons, Thiago, born in 2012, and Mateo, born in 2015. The latter's birth coincided with a fixture against Atletico Madrid and, with Messi typically finding the scoresheet, a familiar celebration in the football world to signify a newborn baby was seen—thumb-sucking.

Per Ed Malyon of the Mirror, Messi hadn't trained for two weeks prior to the game and began the match on the bench.

His second-half appearance helped Barca overturn a 1-0 deficit to win 2-1 at the Vicente Calderon, with manager Luis Enrique stating "Messi was decisive, as he always is!"

Of course, that early-season result aided Barcelona's title quest as they ran out La Liga winners by a single point last term, with Messi netting 26 times in total. But perhaps that single strike at Atleti, coming when it did, meant just a little more to the No. 10.

Call Me, Maybe?

Everybody loves a good theory in the footballing world to try to make something out of nothing—and there were plenty floating around after Messi decimated the Celta Vigo defence recently.

The unstoppable talisman scored a brace, set up two more and helped Barca to a 5-0 victory in March, keeping up the pressure on Real Madrid in the process.

After his first—a tremendous solo goal which left several defenders tackling thin air and gave the goalkeeper no chance with the shot—Messi celebrated with his team-mates and then pointed to the stands, made a "phone call" gesture with his hand to his ear and had something of a serious look about him.

What did it mean? Who was it aimed at? And why did Sergio Ramos soon have to declare he did it first?

Most of the social media suggestions declared it was towards the board, perhaps to speed up contract talks—but soon afterwards it was revealed to be aimed the way of his nephew instead.

Per Sport, Gerard Romero told the Moguts pel Barca show: "Leo Messi dedicated the goal to his nephew who spent the afternoon calling him. He rang him all afternoon, which was very annoying. That was reiterated by Messi in the celebration."

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