Football icon, and arguably the greatest ever player, Lionel Messi has announced that the FIFA World Cup in Qatar at the end of this year will be his last.
The 7-time Ballon D’or winner publicized the decision regarding his future with the Argentinian National Team on Thursday.
“This will be my last World Cup — for sure. The decision has been made,” said Messi to Argentine journalist Sebastian Vignolo via Star+.
Messi won his first piece of major international silverware last year in Argentina’s Copa América triumph. The current PSG superstar will be aiming to bring the World Cup to Argentina for the first time since 1986.
Many Argentinians still regard the late Diego Maradona as their greatest ever export despite the brilliance of Messi stretching over the past two decades. However, the fans are swayed by the fact that Maradona won them the World Cup, something Messi hopes to emulate in Qatar.
The 35-year-old revealed that he is anxious ahead of what is set to be the fifth World Cup of his career. “I am counting the days for the World Cup,” continues Messi. “The truth is, there is a little anxiety of wanting it to be now and the nerves of saying ‘well, we’re here, what’s going to happen,’ it’s the last one, how is it going to go and yes, on the one hand we can’t wait for it to arrive and on the other the fear of wanting it to go fine.”
Messi has 164 caps for his country, scoring 90 goals since his debut in 2005. The Argentine captain came closest to World Cup glory in 2014, where the Albiceleste were beaten in the final by Germany after extra-time.
Argentina are currently unbeaten in their last 35 matches, last losing to Brazil in the 2019 Copa América. They have the chance to break Italy’s record of 37 matches unbeaten at the tournament in Qatar, where Argentina are in a group with Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland.
Despite their fine form heading into the tournament, Messi doesn’t consider Argentina as one of the favourites to win the World Cup.
“We arrived at a very good moment because of the way everything happened, with a very armed and very strong group, but in a World Cup anything can happen. All the matches are difficult, that is why a World Cup is so special because the favourites are not always the ones who end up winning or doing the path that one expected, ” claimed Messi in an interview with Pollo Vignolo.
“I don’t know if we are the great candidates, but Argentina in itself is always a candidate for history, for what it means, more now at the moment we arrived, but we are not the favourites, I think there are other teams that are above [us].”
Messi and Argentina get their World Cup campaign started with a game against Saudi Arabia on November 22nd.
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