Star Argentina footballer and captain Lionel Messi has confirmed that the final match of the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar on Sunday (December 18) will be his last game for his country. The 35-year-old, who helped Argentina reach the final of the ongoing tournament by defeating Croatia in the first semifinal on Tuesday night (Wednesday IST), is the tournament’s leading goal scorer and assist provider this year. He scored his team’s first goal against Croatia and then provided an assist to Julian Alvarez for the team’s third goal.
Speaking to Argentine media outlet Diario Deportivo Ole after Argentina’s win, Messi confirmed his retirement plans and said that Sunday’s summit clash will be his last game for the South American giants.
“I feel very happy to be able to achieve this, to finish my World Cup journey by playing my last game in a final.”
“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,” Messi said. Messi has been on fire in this edition of the FIFA World Cup. He has won four Player of the Match awards and has found the back of the net in five out of the six matches played so far.
Against Croatia in the first semifinal, he broke multiple records with his spectacular show. By featuring in the starting XI, he first equaled former Germany midfielder Lothar Matthaus’ record of appearing in most World Cup matches (25). And then, by scoring the opening goal for the South Americans, he broke former Argentina striker Gabriel Batistuta’s record of scoring the most goals by an Argentine player in FIFA World Cup matches.
Messi now has 11 goals to his name in 25 matches. Not only with goals, but also with assists, Messi set a new record. He is the first player in World Cup history to score a goal and provide an assist in the same game in four matches. He has done this three times in the ongoing World Cup and once back in 2006 against Serbia.
Messi, who is playing his “record-equaling” fifth FIFA World Cup in Qatar this year, will play the FIFA World Cup final for the second time in his career. He led Argentina to the final in the 2014 edition as well, but had to settle for a second-place finish. But this year, he will hope to end the 36-year wait for his country and win the first ever World Cup title. In the final on Sunday (December 18), Argentina will face the winner of the second semifinal between France and Morocco.