Lionel Messi, the captain of Argentina, stated on Thursday that the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will “definitely” be his final competition.
Definitely my final World Cup.
I have fantastic physical health, and this year, unlike last year, I was able to have a strong preseason. It was crucial for me to arrive at my current location with optimism and a positive outlook, the 35-year-old told ESPN Argentina.
Lionel Messi, who will play in his fifth World Cup, made his international debut for Argentina in 2005. Since then, he has earned 164 caps for the team and is the all-time leading scorer with 90 goals.
In the interview, which was conducted in Paris, where Messi represents Paris Saint-Germain, he acknowledged his anxiety for the upcoming competition.
He stated, “There is nervousness and worry surrounding the World Cup. “We’re eager for it to begin.”
Messi made his international debut in 2005 as a substitute against Hungary, although he only played for two minutes before he was dismissed. Nevertheless, he rapidly became a member of the national squad, and in 2006, he went to Germany for his first World Cup.
Later, he took the field in South Africa in 2010, Brazil in 2014, where Argentina advanced to the final, and Russia in 2018.
The current team, led by Lionel Scaloni, has gone 35 games without suffering a loss and is expected to be among the pre-tournament favorites.
“Anything can happen,” remarked Messi, “but we have reached a good point with a very well-equipped and very strong group.
The games are all quite challenging. The favorites don’t always come out on top or go in the direction that one anticipates.
Argentina is always a contender due of its significance and history. However, there are other teams that are ahead of us; we are not the sole favorites.
Before playing Mexico and Poland in Group C, Argentina’s quest for a third World Cup victory and first since 1986 begins on November 22 against Saudi Arabia in Lusail.
On the largest international stage, Messi has frequently struggled to duplicate Argentine legend Diego Maradona, yet he was unexpectedly voted player of the tournament after his team lost the 2014 final to Germany.
His only goal came four years ago in Russia, when Argentina lost to eventual champions France 4-3 in the round of 16 after being humiliated 3-0 by Croatia in the group stage.
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However, there are enormous expectations for the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner to leave World Cups in Middle Eastern majesty.
Messi received the best player award while leading Argentina to their first major tournament victory in 28 years in the 2018 Copa America, where they defeated longtime rivals Brazil.
For Messi and his longtime rival Cristiano Ronaldo, 37, Qatar will likely be their final opportunity to win the World Cup.