Messi confirms Qatar showpiece will be last chapter of his World Cup legacy

Lionel Messi has confirmed he will play his last World Cup game when Argentina take on either France or Morocco in Sunday’s final in Qatar.
Lionel Messi led Argentina to a 3-0 win over Croatia in their World Cup semifinal on Tuesday and will earn his 172nd cap at the weekend when he tries to bring the country its first title since 1986.
But that will be it at World Cups for a man widely considered one of the greatest ever to play the game.
Messi confirmed that Sunday’s final would be his last World Cup match. He will be 39 when the 2026 tournament is staged in North America and he cannot see himself continuing until then.
“I feel very happy to be able to achieve this, to finish my World Cup journey by playing my last game in a final,” Messi told Argentine media outlet Diario Deportivo Ole.
“It’s many years for the next one and I don’t think I’ll be able to do it. And to finish like this, it’s the best,” added the Argentina captain.
The 35-year-old is playing at his fifth World Cup, surpassing the four of Diego Maradona and Javier Mascherano.
With his fifth goal in Qatar, he also surpassed Gabriel Batistuta as the top Albiceleste scorer at World Cups, netting 11 times.
“It’s all well and good (the records), but the important thing is to be able to achieve the group objective, which is the most beautiful thing of all,” Messi added.
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“We’re just one step away, after fighting hard, and we’re going to give everything to try to make it happen this time.
“Throughout the World Cup it has been incredible what we have lived through and we are going to play the last game which is what we wanted.
“I’ve been enjoying this for a long time, since we arrived at this World Cup. We asked people to trust us because we know who we are. It’s crazy, we did it . we’re going to play another final. Once again, Argentina are in a World Cup final.”
Huge crowds
Tuesday’s victory prompted thousands of fans to take to the streets in Argentina to celebrate the national team’s sixth World Cup final appearance.
The huge crowds around the Obelisco in the heart of the capital buzzed as Messi gave the South Americans the lead with an early penalty in Qatar before Julian Alvarez scored two more, ...
14 Dec 2022 6AM English South Africa News · Sports

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