Regarded as one of the best football players in the world, Lionel Messi has revealed that the 2022 World Cup will be “the last one”, giving hints about his retirement in international football. This year’s edition of the World Cup will be Messi’s fifth appearance in the tournament since his international debut in 2005, where he won a total of 164 caps for Argentina and become the country’s all-time record scorer with 90 goals.
“There’s some anxiety and nerves at the same time. It is the last one,” the 35-year-old said in an interview. “I feel good physically, I was able to do a very good pre-season this year, which I couldn’t do last year. It was essential to get to where I am, with a good state of mind and a lot of hope.” Argentina, who hasn’t lost in its last 34 games, will face Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland in Group C.
The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner recorded six goals and five assists from 19 World Cup games he appeared in. He only scored once in the 2018 World Cup in Russia as his side bowed out with a 4-3 defeat by eventual champions France in the knockout rounds. Messi, who is also one of the highest paid soccer players in the world, has previously announced his international football retirement only to retract it months after the 2017 Copa America, where Argentina lost in the final on penalties.
“I have been playing with the national team for a long time now,” Messi added. “There have been spectacular moments, like in 2014, 2015 and 2016, but we didn’t win and were criticized for not being champions. We did everything right until the finals.” Argentina is now ranked third by FIFA and the heavy favorites to lift this year’s edition of the largest football event in the world.
Last year, Argentina finally ended their trophy drought in a major international football tournament as they beat host team Brazil 1-0 in the 2021 Copa America final in Rio de Janeiro to secure the title for the first time since 1993. This is a particular triumph for the then Barcelona striker Messi as he finally lifted his first major trophy for the national team. He won the best player award that time.
“My love of the Argentinean people is unconditional. I’m very grateful to have experienced and enjoyed everything I have. It was very special,” Messi said. Argentina last won the World Cup in 1986 exactly eight years after winning their maiden trophy in the tournament at the 1987 edition. They were knocked out of the quarterfinals in 2006 and 2010 before finishing second to Germany in 2014.
The interview came just days after Argentine journalist Veronica Brunati, who also covers the Argentina national team, revealed that the Paris Saint-Germain star will make a Barce return in the summer window. Messi is currently enjoying the start of the 2022-23 campaign, scoring eight goals in 13 club appearances across all competitions.
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