The Argentine star, Lionel Messi, confirmed that he will play his last match in the FIFA World Cup when he faces the “tango dancers” winner from France or Morocco in the final next Sunday in Qatar.
Messi led Argentina to a 3-0 victory over Croatia in the semi-finals last night and will play his 172nd international match as he tries to win the first World Cup title for his country since 1986.
Messi told the Argentine newspaper Diario Deportivo Ole: “I feel very happy because I am able to achieve this and end my journey in the World Cup by playing my last match in the final.”
The Argentina captain added: “It’s been many years and I don’t think I will be able to continue. Ending my World Cup career like this will be the best for me.”
The 35-year-old is participating in the World Cup for the fifth time, surpassing the record of four times for both the late legend, Diego Maradona, and the former star of the tango team, Javier Mascherano.
With his fifth goal in Qatar, he also overtook Gabriel Batistuta as Argentina’s top scorer in the World Cup finals with 11 goals.
Messi added, “Everything is good and the records are good, but the important thing is to be able to achieve the team’s goal, which is the most beautiful thing ever. We are one step away after a serious struggle, and we will give everything to try to win the title this time.”
Last night’s victory prompted thousands of fans to take to the streets in Argentina to celebrate the national team’s qualification to the World Cup final for the sixth time in its history.
France will meet Morocco in another semi-final match later on Wednesday.