Lionel Messi confirmed that he will retire after the FIFA World Cup 2022 final on December 18. The Argentina captain, who scored from a penalty and played equally important in the other two goals scored by Julian Alvarez against Croatia to take his country to the final, said the summit clash will be his last in the sky and white stripes.
“I feel very happy to be able to achieve this, to finish my World Cup journey by playing my last game in a final,” Messi told Argentine media outlet Diario Deportivo Ole.
“It’s many years for the next one and I don’t think I’ll be able to do it. And to finish like this, it’s the best,” added the Argentina captain.
The 35-year-old is playing at his fifth World Cup, surpassing the four of Diego Maradona and Javier Mascherano.
With his fifth goal in Qatar, he also surpassed Gabriel Batistuta as the top Albiceleste scorer at World Cups, netting 11 times.
The PSG forward put on a show for a capacity crowd at Lusail Stadium in Qatar which many described as his best in recent times. This will be Messi’s last chance to lift the World Cup before calling it quits. He had ended up as a runner-up after losing to Germany in 2014 in Brazil.
“It’s all well and good (the records), but the important thing is to be able to achieve the group objective, which is the most beautiful thing of all,” Messi added. “We’re just one step away, after fighting hard, and we’re going to give everything to try to make it happen this time.”
Tuesday’s victory prompted thousands of fans to take to the streets in Argentina to celebrate the national team’s sixth World Cup final appearance.
Argentina will face either 2018 champions France (Group D winners) or Morocco (Group F winners) in the final.