Lionel Messi believes Sunday’s final will be his last appearance for Argentina at a World Cup.
The Argentina striker scored his fifth Qatar 2022 goal in Tuesday’s 3-0 semi-final against Croatia and admitted afterwards he did not expect to feature in a sixth World Cup in four year.
He said: “Obviously I’m very happy to have finished my World Cup journey in the final, to play the last match in the final. It’s really very rewarding.
“Everything I have experienced in this World Cup has been emotional, considering how much it has been appreciated in Argentina.
“There are a lot of years between this year and the next. I don’t think I’ll be able to do that. To end this way is great.”
Messi, 35, won almost every accolade in the game. He has won the Ballon d’Or – awarded to the best player in the world – a record seven times and has also won Fifa’s Best Men’s Player award once.
Other honors include four Champions League triumphs, 11 top-flight titles and Copa America glory in 2021. The World Cup is the only glaring omission, having lost the final to Germany in 2014.
Now Messi, who will make a record 26th appearance in a men’s World Cup in Sunday’s final against France or Morocco, has one more chance to lift the biggest trophy of them all.
“The target is the collective goal,” he said. “We are going to do our best like we have done so far so that this time it really happens, we really win it.
“I’ve enjoyed the past few years being with the national team. I really enjoy everything that happens to us. Getting the Copa America, reaching the world cup with 36 games unbeaten and finishing that whole trajectory in a final is simply amazing.
“I hope people in Argentina will have fun and appreciate what we are doing. They shouldn’t doubt that we are giving absolutely everything.”
The Paris St-Germain striker is one of six men to have played in five World Cups alongside Antonio Carbajal, Lothar Matthaus, Rafa Marquez, Andres Guardado and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Currently co-top scorer with Kylian Mbappe in Qatar, Messi also became the first player to score in four different World Cup tournaments for Argentina in a tournament that saw him become his country’s top marksman. in the World Cup with 11 goals.
The Paris St-Germain striker, who also provided three assists at this tournament, made his debut in 2005 aged 18 and has since made 172 appearances and scored 97 goals.