Lionel Messi has confirmed that the 2022 tournament will be his last World Cup appearances for Argentina, with the 35-year-old on the verge of becoming the Albiceleste’s all time World Cup appearance holder this winter.
The Barcelona legend currently sits on 19 World Cup appearances, needing two more to equal current record holder Diego Maradona. Should he appear in all of Argentina’s group stages, therefore, he will take the record from his fellow iconic figure.
And, in almost pre-destined fashion, should Messi reach the World Cup final he will tie the record for most appearances in the tournament from any nation, joining Lothar Matthäus on 26. Incidentally, it would also be his 1000th professional game.
And, speaking on concerns surrounding his fitness, Messi revealed that while he was fully fit, this is in all likelihood his last.
“I have no issues whatsoever”, the Argentine skipper confirmed. “I heard there were rumours about having to miss part of the training or training a part of the training, no, it’s just precautions. Nothing strange or out of the ordinary.”
“I haven’t done anything differently, I just took care of myself. I have worked as I have done throughout my entire career. This is a special moment, most likely my last World Cup. My last opportunity to make my dream, our dream a reality.”
Though among the favourites, Argentina will have to reach the final the hard way, with the likes of Brazil, Spain and Germany all expected to be among the opponents that they will face en route to the tournament showpiece.
Having reached the final in 2014, Lionel Messi is one of few survivors from that run, and will be determined to go one better this time around.