We all know Lionel Messi is left-footed, but one question that I have seen asked a few times is ‘Is Lionel Messi left-handed?’.
In fact, I have also seen the questions ‘is Lionel Messi right-handed?’ And ‘is Lionel Messi right-handed or left-handed?’ asked quite frequently.
There is obviously much more confusion over Messi’s handedness than his footedness, where everyone knows him as having one of the best-left feet of all time.
So let’s take a look in a bit more detail.
Is Lionel Messi Left-Handed?
No. Lionel Messi is right-handed. Look at any photos or videos of Messi signing autographs or holding an object such as a pen, microphone or bottle and you will see it is in his right-hand.
No Lionel Messi is not left-handed, he is very much right-handed.
As natural as it would seem to assume that as he is left-footed he is also left-handed, this isn’t the case.
Look at any picture or video of Messi where he is holding an object and it is obvious his right hand is his dominant one.
Whether he is signing an autograph (as below) or a contract, holding his phone, a drink or a microphone, you will see that the object is nearly always in his right hand.
This tendency to write with one hand and kick with another is known as cross dominance and there are some interesting statistics around it.
A study revealed that 10.6 percent of the world’s population is left-handed, with the remaining 89.4 percent being right-handed.
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Now whilst, as you may expect, the chance of being left-footed is considerably higher for a left-hander than for a right-hander it isn’t exclusively so.
Another survey of over 1,000 left footers and 1,000 right footers, yielded some interesting results show in the table below:
In other words as a right-handed, left-footer, Messi is very much in the minority.
Who Are Some Other Famous Left-Footed But Right-Handed Footballers?
So with only 3 percent of right-handers being left-footed, you would assume players like Messi, who write with their right hand and kick with their left foot, are hard to come by right?
In fact, the list is long and includes Diego Maradona, Johan Cruyff, Alfredo Di Stefano, Rivaldo, David Silva, Gareth Bale, Ryan Giggs, Roberto Carlos, Mo Salah, Giorgio Chiellini, Jordi Alba, Juan Mata, Leighton Baines and many more.
In fact, the extensive list is outlined in this excellent article on Qwenu.
I genuinely have no idea why so many of the world’s best players would be left-handed and right-footed, when in the general population that figure is so small.
I read a theory that it was because being right-handed and left-footed means they are constantly engaging their brain.
That these select few are mainly right-sided people who are using the left analytical and mathematical side of their brains most of the time. And that being left-footed means they also engage the right creative side of their brain all of the time.
In comparison naturally right-footed players have “too much to compute with the left side of our brains each time we kick the ball – sight, listening, body position, leg and foot”.
But that theory was shot down as apparently left-footed players use the same area of the brain as a right-footed player to do the same thing.
So if anyone has any theories of their own please drop them in the comments box below!
Do Left-Footed Players Have An Advantage?
It depends on what we mean by an advantage, but statistically, it seems that if you are left-footed you might have a better chance of playing football professionally.
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We already mentioned earlier that around 10% of the world’s population is left-handed. A recent study showed that the proportion of people that are left-footed was slightly higher at 12.1 percent.
So you may expect the proportion of professional footballers that are left-footed to be around that figure?
A further study put the figure of left-footers playing professional football to be 23%
To add a bit more substance to the matter, a study related to income in Europe’s major football leagues found that players who were able to play with both feet equally well earned, on average, 15.4 percent more than their teammates.
Why Does Messi Play On the Right?
Since his move to PSG Lionel Messi has played a number of roles as a striker, behind the striker and playing wide.
Interestingly though when he does play wide he always plays from the right.
It was also as an inverted winger on the right side of a front line alongside Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto’o that Messi really made his name.
But why does Messi play from the right-hand side when he is left-footed?
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It would seem to be that it allows him to be a more direct attacking threat, he can cut inside from the right and have the ball on his favored left foot for a shot.
It also allows him more space, able to drift into the center of the pitch rather than being confined to the flanks. Playing on the left-hand side, he would be more naturally inclined to cross the ball in from the byline, robbing us of everything else he is capable of.
In short, it gives him more options and more involvement in games.
Short and sweet, Lionel Messi is not left-handed, he is right-handed.
In the general population, this is very unusual with only 3 percent of people being right-handed but left-footed, but that 3 percent includes some very good footballers indeed, including fellow Argentine Diego Maradona.
If you want proof that Lionel Messi is right-handed just find any videos or photos of him signing autographs or holding a microphone/bottle/phone.
They will nearly always be in his right hand.
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