The Argentine star led his country to World Cup glory on Sunday
Lionel Messi wants to continue playing for Argentina after realizing his World Cup dream in a thrilling penalty shootout victory against France in Qatar on Sunday.
Messi finally captured the only major prize to have eluded him in his glittering career as Argentina ended their 36-year wait for the biggest title in football.
Messi, 35, stated before the tournament that Qatar would “surely” be his last World Cup – a position he repeated on the eve of the final.
But after adding the World Cup to the Copa America which Argentina clinched in 2021, Messi signaled he still has more to give for his country.
“I won the Copa America and the World Cup in a short time,” Messi told TyC.
“I love what I do, being in the national team, and I want to continue living a few more games as a world champion.”
Messi said his “childhood dream” had been fulfilled as he emulated the late, great Diego Maradona by captaining his country to the title.
Sunday’s game in front of almost 90,000 fans at the Lusail Stadium was hailed as an instant classic, and potentially the greatest World Cup final ever.
Messi was central to proceedings, scoring a first-half penalty and a goal in extra time, as well as being on target in the shootout.
After taking a 2-0 lead, Argentina found themselves pegged back after a sensational late double from Messi’s Paris Saint-Germain teammate Kylian Mbappe.
Mbappe also found the net with an extra-time penalty and scored in the shootout, but his heroics were not enough for France to retain their title.
The French star finished the tournament as the Golden Boot winner with eight strikes, while Messi finished on seven but claimed the Golden Ball as the competition’s best player.
The Argentine captain also set a record for the most appearances ever at the World Cup, moving onto 26 matches at the tournament – one ahead of German legend Lothar Matthaus.
His goals on Sunday made Messi the first player ever to score in the group stage, the last 16, the quarterfinal, semifinal, and final of the World Cup.
Messi is already his country’s most-capped player ever on 172 appearances, and the all-time top scorer for La Albiceleste on 98 goals.
2 – Only two players have both scored 5+ goals and created 20+ chances in a #FIFAWorldCup tournament (since 1966):
Diego Maradona in 1986
Lionel Messi in 2022
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 18, 2022
“It’s madness… look how she [the World Cup] is, she’s gorgeous. I wanted her so much. I had a vision that this would be the one… she was getting closer,” Messi added.
“I wanted to close my career with this. I can no longer ask for anything else, thank God, he gave me everything.”
Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni, 44, said that his team should “save a spot” for Messi for the 2026 World Cup, which will be jointly held across Canada, the USA, and Mexico.
“If he wants to keep playing, he will be with us. I think he is more than entitled to decide whether he wants to keep playing or what he wants to do with his career,” Scaloni said.
Argentina’s triumph was their third in World Cup history, following success in 1978 and 1986, and sparked wild celebrations among their large contingent of fans at the Lusail Stadium and for millions more back in their homeland.
December 19, 2022 at 02:00PM