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In the world of modern soccer, few names are bigger than Lionel Messi. While the Argentine forward might not have the largest stature on the pitch, he’s a monolithic presence. Thanks to his sheer talent and ability to produce magic on the pitch, he’s become a global icon, capable of inspiring all sorts of pop-cultural nuggets. Take, for example, the cry of “Ankara Messi.”

If you’re moving in certain circles of the internet, then you might have heard an audio clip that seems to say “Ankara Messi” several times in quick succession. Have you ever wondered what the story is behind that soundbite? Or even what the commentator in question is saying? (Spoiler: It’s actually “Encara Messi.”)

If that’s the case, allow us to break it all down for you.

What does ‘Ankara Messi’ actually mean?

Lionel Messi in action for Argentina during the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Lionel Messi has inspired some iconic moments, like the “Ankara Messi” call. | Lionel Hahn/Getty Images

If you’ve watched soccer for a while, you’ve probably heard of countless prospects being labeled as “the (nationality) Messi.” While that might lead you to believe Ankara Messi is a nickname for the next big talent to come out of Turkey, that’s not actually the case.

The phrase dates back to one of the Argentine’s most famous goals at Barcelona. On the broadcast, which we’ll discuss in a bit more detail later, Joaquim Maria Puyal watched Messi dribble the ball up the pitch, leaving defender after defender in his wake.

In an attempt to describe what he was seeing, Puyal defaulted to saying “Messi” numerous times before moving on to what sounds like “Ankara Messi.” In the Catalan dialect of Spanish, that roughly translates to “Still Messi,” as in the forward still has the ball and is moving forward.

Think of Chris Berman giving his signature “He…could…go…all…the…way,” and you’ve got a similar vibe.

There is a catch, though.

‘Ankara Messi’ should actually be written as ‘Encara Messi’

As I teased in the introduction to this piece, “Ankara Messi” isn’t an accurate translation of what the commentator is actually saying. He’s saying “encara,” which is a third-person singular verb conjugation. Allow Reddit user TSKWilliam to explain.

It’s “Encara Messi”, encara meaning “still” in Catalan. The commentator Joaquim María Puyal screamed this during Leo’s dribbling run when he scored that goal against Getafe. Ankara is the capital of Turkey.

TSKWilliam on a Reddit thread titled “Please stop saying ‘Ankara Messi’. Thank you.”

We couldn’t have said it any better ourselves.

What prompted the iconic ‘Ankara Messi’/’Encara Messi’ call?

So now that we’ve established what Joaquim Maria Puyal was saying, what prompted him to produce the iconic call? To answer that, let’s hop into the time machine and take a trip back to 2007.

That day, Barcelona were facing off against Getafe in the Copa Del Rey. At one point in the match, Messi received the ball from Xavi near the midfield line. He immediately beat one defender, then danced by a second, and started moving up the pitch.

As he approached the penalty area, the Argentine attacker split three Getafe players — one sliding in and two going for standing tackles — before driving toward the net. He then rounded the goalkeeper before chipping the ball over a final defender, who was sliding in to block the shot, to produce a wonder goal.

When viewing Messi’s heroics, it’s easy to see why Puyal was at a loss for words and relied on repeating one phase again and again.

The call has since taken on a life of its own on the internet

While soccer may be a global game, that isn’t the sole reason why “Ankara Messi” has taken a place in popular culture. Instead, you can thank the internet and social media for that.

Streamer Lucas Rodriquez has used “Ankara” (or “Encara” if you want to be accurate) online, which has brought the clip to an entirely new audience. The sound has also reached TikTok, where it’s applied to a mix of soccer-related videos and other clips, like teens trying to kiss their crush, to imply dramatic progress toward a final goal.

And, of course, there are plenty of memes used to poke fun at Cristiano Ronaldo while highlighting Messi’s greatness, as seen above.

‘Ankara Messi’ isn’t the only time the Argentina star has inspired a viral call

As you might expect from his overall brilliance, Lionel Messi has produced plenty of inspirational moments on the pitch. Just ask Ray Hudson about that.

While Joaquim Maria Puyal is responsible for bringing “encara Messi” to the world, there are entire Youtube compilations of Hudson narrating the Argentine maestro’s work. On various occasions, the commentator has said that Messi “could make Ebenezer Scrooge smile,” produced “a goal that would wake up a catatonic,” and is “like a Jedi knight. No, better than that, a Templar knight.” And, when all else fails, the Englishman isn’t about shouting, shrieking, and making other sorts of noises.

But if you watch Messi work his magic, who can blame a football fan for being a bit emotional? Whether we’re talking about “Ankara Messi,” “Encara Messi,” or any other dramatic calls, it all comes from the same place: genuine joy and appreciation of a moment of sporting brilliance.


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