Lionel Messi says 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be his last originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Lionel Messi’s World Cup career will come to an end in Qatar.
The 35-year-old Argentinian megastar said on Thursday that the 2022 World Cup will be his last.
“This will be my last World Cup – for sure,” he told Sebastián Vignolo. “The decision has been made.”
Messi first played in the World Cup at the 2006 tournament in Germany, becoming the youngest player in his country’s history to make a World Cup appearance at just 18 years old. Argentina fell to Germany in that year’s quarterfinals and lost to Germany in the same round once again at the 2010 event.
Messi won the Golden Ball award in 2014 as the top player in that year’s competition. He helped lead Argentina to the World Cup Final, where they met up against Germany for the third straight tournament. The result was similar, though, as Germany earned a 1-0 win in extra time.
Argentina’s most recent World Cup appearance also ended against the eventual champions. France eliminated Argentina in the Round of 16 at the 2018 event in Russia thanks to a 4-3 thriller. Messi finished the event with just one goal in four games, bringing his career total to six goals in 19 World Cup matches.
By playing in the 2022 tournament, Messi will join a short list of players to take the pitch in five World Cups. Antonio Carbajal, Rafael Márquez and Lothar Matthäus are currently the only players to reach the feat, while Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo seek to accompany them by playing in Qatar.
Messi has seen international success with Argentina in the buildup to the 2022 World Cup. He won his first major international trophy in 2021 with a victory over Brazil in the 2021 Copa América final. In June, Messi picked up two assists in a Finalissma triumph over Italy.
Argentina enters the 2022 event as the No. 3 team in FIFA’s final pre-World Cup rankings, trailing Belgium and rival Brazil. Messi and Co. will begin the event with a Group C match against Saudi Arabia on Nov. 22. They will continue group play against Mexico and Poland before likely entering the knockout stages.