Title: EUR ON Lionel Messi: The Hypothetical Scenario of Messi Representing Two Teams at Euro 2024


Lionel Messi, widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, has spent the entirety of his international career representing Argentina. However, an intriguing hypothetical scenario has recently surfaced: the possibility of Messi being eligible to play for two different teams at Euro 2024. This scenario, though purely speculative, raises fascinating questions about eligibility rules, Messi’s heritage, and the impact such a decision could have on European football.

Eligibility Rules for National Teams

To understand the hypothetical scenario, it’s essential to first grasp the eligibility rules set by FIFA for players to represent national teams. According to FIFA’s statutes, a player can represent a national team if they:

  1. Are born in the country.
  2. Have a parent or grandparent born in the country.
  3. Have lived continuously in the country for at least five years after reaching the age of 18.

Once a player has represented one national team in a competitive match, they are generally not allowed to switch to another national team. However, FIFA has made exceptions in recent years, particularly for players with dual nationality or those who haven’t played a competitive match for their original national team.

Messi’s Heritage and Potential Eligibility

Lionel Messi was born in Rosario, Argentina, on June 24, 1987. His Argentine nationality is indisputable, but what about his potential eligibility for European teams? Messi’s heritage includes Italian roots through his paternal great-grandfather, who emigrated from the Italian region of Marche to Argentina in the late 19th century. This Italian connection could have made Messi eligible for Italian citizenship.

Additionally, Messi moved to Spain at the age of 13 to join FC Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy. Given his prolonged residence in Spain and his contribution to Spanish football, there was speculation over the years about Messi acquiring Spanish nationality. In fact, Messi did obtain Spanish citizenship in 2005, allowing him to play for Barcelona without being considered a foreign player.

Hypothetical Scenario: Messi Representing Italy

Had Messi opted to pursue his Italian heritage, he could have applied for Italian citizenship and, theoretically, become eligible to represent Italy. The Italian national team, known as the Azzurri, has a storied history with four World Cup victories and two European Championship titles. Adding Messi to their roster would have undoubtedly boosted their attacking prowess.

Italy’s football philosophy, often characterized by strong defense and tactical discipline, could have complemented Messi’s creative and attacking flair. Playing alongside stars like Andrea Pirlo, Francesco Totti, and later, young talents like Federico Chiesa, Messi could have formed a formidable attacking unit.

In this scenario, Italy might have witnessed a resurgence in their footballing fortunes, with Messi playing a pivotal role in their quest for more international titles. His ability to unlock defenses with his dribbling, vision, and goal-scoring prowess would have added a new dimension to Italy’s game.

Hypothetical Scenario: Messi Representing Spain

Messi’s prolonged residence in Spain and his eventual acquisition of Spanish citizenship made him eligible to represent La Roja, the Spanish national team. Spain, renowned for their tiki-taka style of play, dominated world football from 2008 to 2012, winning two European Championships and one World Cup.

Joining a team that included legends like Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, and Sergio Ramos, Messi could have seamlessly integrated into Spain’s possession-based style. His partnership with players who were also his teammates at Barcelona could have led to an even more dominant Spanish side.

The prospect of Messi playing for Spain during their golden era is tantalizing. His presence might have helped Spain extend their dominance in international football, potentially adding more silverware to their already impressive collection. Messi’s vision and ability to score from almost any position on the field would have made Spain’s attack even more potent.

Impact on Argentina

While these hypothetical scenarios are intriguing, they also prompt reflection on Messi’s actual contributions to Argentina. Despite numerous individual accolades and a storied club career, Messi’s international journey with Argentina has been filled with ups and downs. He has often faced criticism for not replicating his club success with the national team, despite reaching several finals.

In recent years, however, Messi has experienced a resurgence with Argentina, winning the Copa America in 2021 and the FIFA World Cup in 2022. These victories have solidified his legacy and silenced many critics who questioned his commitment to the national team. The idea of Messi playing for another country, while fascinating, underscores the emotional and cultural significance of his achievements with Argentina.

The Broader Implications for Football

The hypothetical scenarios of Messi representing Italy or Spain also highlight broader implications for international football. In an era where player mobility is increasing, and dual nationality is more common, questions about national allegiance and eligibility are becoming more relevant. FIFA’s evolving rules on player eligibility reflect the changing dynamics of global football.

Moreover, the idea of a player of Messi’s caliber representing a different national team underscores the impact of individual talent on team success. While football is a team sport, the presence of a generational talent like Messi can significantly alter the fortunes of a national team. This scenario also sparks debates about the role of naturalized players and the balance between heritage and residence in national team selection.


The hypothetical scenario of Lionel Messi representing two teams at Euro 2024 is a captivating exercise in imagination, highlighting the complexities of player eligibility and national allegiance in modern football. While Messi’s contributions to Argentina are indelible, the idea of him playing for Italy or Spain offers a glimpse into alternative footballing realities.

Ultimately, Messi’s legacy is deeply intertwined with Argentina, and his recent international successes have cemented his status as a national icon. However, the hypothetical scenarios serve as a reminder of the fluid nature of footballing identities and the profound impact of individual talent on the beautiful game. Whether in the blue and white of Argentina, the Azzurri of Italy, or the red of Spain, Messi’s genius would undoubtedly shine, leaving an indelible mark on the world of football.