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Lionel Messi celebration vs Real Madrid: Barcelona legend's infamous Clasico jersey taunt explained

11:54 IST 20/12/2021
Lionel Messi Barcelona 2017 celebration Real Madrid
It is one of the most memorable Clasico moments, but where did it come from? GOAL takes a look

Lionel Messi is, by some distance, the top goalscorer in the history of El Clasico, finding the back of the net 26 times for Barcelona in competitive games against Real Madrid.

All of those goals have been cause for celebration and Messi certainly refined his actions over the years, with a deep understanding of the enmity between the sides helping him to know exactly how best to get under the skin of the Catalan club's perennial rivals.

His infamous shirt celebration of 2017 at Santiago Bernabeu is arguably his most iconic, given the circumstances leading up to it, and it spawned a number of mimics, not to mention memes. So what was the celebration and what inspired it? GOAL brings you everything you need to know.

What was Lionel Messi's shirt celebration vs Real Madrid?

On April 23, 2017, Lionel Messi scored a last-minute goal to secure a 3-2 victory for Barcelona against Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu. The goal was Messi's 500th for Barca and he celebrated by whipping off his jersey and holding the side showing his name and number up to the Madrid fans.

Naturally, the taunt was not particularly well received among Madrid fans, but an iconic Clasico moment was thus etched into the annals of history.

It was actually Messi's second goal of the game, with his first being a 33rd-minute equaliser which cancelled out Casemiro's opener. Barca then took the lead in the 73rd minute and looked to be on course for victory until James Rodriguez struck with five minutes left on the clock. However, Messi broke Madrid hearts in stoppage time when he latched on to a clever Jordi Alba cut-back pass and placed the ball beyond the reach of Keylor Navas.

There was a small price to pay for opting to rub salt into the wounds of the Real Madrid players and fans, with referee Alejandro Hernandez brandishing a yellow card to the Argentine for removing his jersey.

What inspired the Messi shirt celebration?

While Messi's celebration against Real Madrid was definitely unusual - rare, no doubt due to the fact it now carries a penalty of a yellow card - the Argentina international was not the first footballer to hold up their shirt at fans.

It is not clear where exactly Messi got the idea from, but it is possible that he may have been inspired by former Barcelona legend Ronaldinho, who memorably held up his shirt to fans after scoring a goal for Paris Saint-Germain in a Classique victory against Marseille in 2002.

Others had also brandished their jersey as a celebration before Messi and could well claim to have been the source of inspiration. Another Brazilian, Juninho Pernambucano, for example, took off his shirt and held it up to fans after helping Lyon defeat Marseille in 2009.

The Brazilian connection to the celebration continued when Real Madrid full-back Marcelo held his jersey up after scoring in the 2014 Champions League final win against Atletico Madrid.

Who has copied Messi's shirt celebration?

The image of Messi defiantly holding his jersey up to Real Madrid fans beamed across the world and, naturally, prompted plenty of emulations.

Perhaps most notably, Cristiano Ronaldo wasted little time in copying it in the next Clasico meeting a few months later, in August of that year, when he scored in the Super Cup at Camp Nou.

While Madrid won 3-1 on that occasion, the celebration earned Ronaldo a yellow card and he then picked up a second yellow card for a perceived dive, resulting in a sending off.

Brazil international Richarlison appeared to emulate the Messi celebration in 2019 in a Carabao Cup match for Everton against Lincoln City, though his version is slightly different in that he holds the jersey with the club badge facing the crowd.

In a Twitter post afterwards, Richarlison wrote: "Play for the name on the front of the shirt and they'll remember the name on the back.

Nabil Fekir copied the shirt celebration a few months after Messi did it in 2017 when he held his jersey aloft after scoring for Lyon in a derby match against St Etienne. The move sparked a furious reaction from the fans, who invaded the pitch in response.

Fekir's act of defiance transformed him into something of a cult hero for Lyon supporters, who have since paid tribute to the France international with a mass display of shirts as well as a massive tifo depicting the infamous 2017 moment.