Lionel Messi believes Sunday’s final will be his last appearance for Argentina in a World Cup.
The Argentina forward scored his fifth goal of Qatar 2022 in Tuesday’s 3-0 semi-final over Croatia and admitted afterwards he does not expect to appear in a sixth World Cup in four years time.
He said: “I am obviously very happy for finishing my journey in World Cups in a final, to play the last game in a final. That is really very gratifying.
“Everything that I lived in this World Cup has been emotional, seeing how much it has been enjoyed in Argentina.
“There are a lot of years from this year to the next one. I don’t think I will be able to do that. To finish this way is brilliant.”
Messi, 35, has won almost every accolade in the game. He has won the Ballon d’Or – awarded to the world’s best player – a record seven times and also won the Fifa Best Men’s Player award once.
Other honours 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 either France or Morocco, has one more chance to lift the biggest trophy of all.
“The target is the collective objective,” he said. “We are going to do our best as we have done up until now so that this time it really happens, we really win it.
“I have been enjoying it the last few years being with the national side. I am really enjoying everything that is happening to us. To get the Copa America, to reach the world cup with 36 games unbeaten, and to finish all that trajectory in a final is just incredible.
“I hope the people in Argentina enjoy themselves and what we are doing. They shouldn’t doubt we are giving absolutely everything.”
The Paris St-Germain forward is one of only six men to have played in five World Cups alongside Antonio Carbajal, Lothar Matthaus, Rafa Marquez, Andres Guardado and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Currently joint 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 has seen him become his country’s leading marksmen in the World Cup on 11 goals.