It’s time for us to dispel a myth that’s gotten out there, namely that Lionel Messi has only three UEFA Champions League medals because he, for whatever reason, did not get one in 2006.
It really started when the UEFA website itself posted, in error, that Messi has won the Champions League three times. From there, it was reposted by many other sites.
The UEFA website has repeatedly said Messi has four Champions League medals, but they said it one time it was three by mistake.
The confusion comes from the 2006 title won by FC Barcelona. Messi was a key player and played seven games, including a goal and two assists, as per Transfermarkt. He played 90 minutes in a knockout match against Chelsea, where he was arguably man of the match. However, he was injured thereafter and did not feature anymore. Still, players who take part like this are still awarded medals even if they miss the final through injury.
We can look at it from Messi’s own account. He said he was so angry that he got injured he didn’t celebrate the win with his teammates, but he came to regret that and now appreciates his 2006 medal.
“Even now I feel completely different about my La Liga medal and my Champions League medal [in 2006],” he said.
It makes complete sense, because Champions League rules at the time allowed for 30 medals to be given to the winner (today, 40 medals are given). The Champions League squad size excluding youth teamers, “List A” as it is called, is 25 players. Meaning for sure 25 players would get medals, with the rest left for the club to decide what to do with (give it to youth players, the manager, or someone else.)
Messi was a youth player at the beginning of the season but wore #19 and was a first team regular by the end. As a player who actually started knockout matches, he would obviously receive a medal. He himself has confirmed he has a medal. And finally, UEFA’s website has repeatedly confirmed it.
Hopefully, this clears up any leftover confusion.