BARCELONA, Catalonia — Everybody knows that Leo Messi is one of the world’s most influential athletes, both on and off the field. With his video-game-like moves, his goalscoring prowess, and his humble nature, the FC Barcelona striker and so-called G.O.A.T. has captivated an entire generation of local and international fans, transcending not just borders, but also language, culture, race, age, and gender, among others.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that in Barcelona and the rest of Catalonia, the epicenter of the Messi universe, the Argentinian’s popularity continues to rise among another large demographic — the parents of newborn boys.
According to the Statistical Institute of Catalonia, which officially oversees census data on a current population of more than 7.6 million people, the name ‘Leo’ was the sixth most popular boys name given in 2018, up from 12th the previous year. Among all newborns in 2018, which includes both boys and girls names, the name Leo was ranked — quite fittingly — number 10.
In Catalonia last year, of the 32,408 boys who were born, 459 were named Leo, which represented 1.4% of all newborn boys’ names.
As one might have guessed, Leo is even more popular in the city of Barcelona — the largest in Catalonia and its capital — where a total 6,677 boys were born in 2018, 383 of whom were named Leo, representing 5.7% of all boys’ names here last year.
Given that Messi is coming off one of his finest seasons ever, which recently earned him FIFA’s The Best Award as the top player in the world, there’s every reason to believe that next year, we’ll likely learn that, in 2019, even more new parents will have opted to go with Leo.