Argentina icon Lionel Messi has confirmed that this weekend’s final in Qatar will be the last World Cup game of his career.
La Albiceleste have not lifted the trophy since Diego Maradona inspired the country to glory back in 1986.
GettyMessi will get one more final shot at winning the World Cup before he retires
Argentina’s current captain Messi came close to reaching the same heights in 2014 but fell at the final hurdle by losing to Germany.
Eight years later Argentina are back in the World Cup final with Messi hoping to win the the game’s biggest prize at the fifth attempt.
The 35-year-old has been in sensational form this winter as he scored his fifth goal of Qatar 2022 and helped assist two others in a 3-0 semi-final win over Croatia.
And the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner confirmed afterwards that he won’t be around to spearhead Argentina’s hopes four years later should they lose to France or Morocco.
GettyMessi is determined to take the World Cup back to Argentina
Asked whether Sunday will be his final World Cup game, Messi replied: “Yes. Surely yes. There’s a lot of years until the next one and I don’t think I have it in me and finishing like this is best.
“[I feel] a lot of happiness to be able to achieve this. To finish my World Cup career playing my last game in a final.
“Everything I’ve lived in this World Cup, what people experienced and how much the people back in Argentina are enjoying it all is very emotional.
“I’m enjoying everything a lot, I feel strong to be able to face each match. We’ve come along making a lot of big sacrifices, like playing the extra time which wasn’t easy.
“We were tired but the group gave that little bit more, it was a very tough game which went the way we prepared for.
“We knew they would have the ball a lot and that we would have our chances.
“It was a well prepared match like we always manage, and I’m happy, I’m enjoying it all a lot.”
GettyMessi is appearing in his fifth World Cup
Messi will make a record 26th and final appearance in a World Cup this Sunday before he departs the greatest stage once and for all.
Yet Messi can’t be compared to Argentine legend Diego Maradona, even if he does go on to win the World Cup, talkSPORT has been told.
Ally McCoist said: “I think that Maradona just about won one by himself and it’s just impossible to compare them.
“The biggest thing is – and I don’t care what anybody says – if anybody has watched the Netflix documentary about Maradona, the tackling is brutal. It’s not just bad or a yellow-card offence, I’m telling you, it’s brutal.
“The ‘Butcher of Bilbao’, Andoni Goikoetxea, should have got six months for snapping his ankle. That was a different era, a completely different era.
“Is Messi one of the most gifted players ever? Absolutely. He’s one of the most gifted footballers that I’ve ever seen.
“But Messi and Maradona are incomparable because they played in a different era. They almost played in a different sport!”
Messi was 18 when he was included in Argentina’s squad for the 2006 World Cup
Messi, who briefly retired from Argentina duty in 2016, is yet to confirm whether he is retiring from international football for good or if he’ll help his country try and defend their Copa America crown in 2024.
One thing for certain is that Messi won’t be hanging up his boots for good, with his Paris Saint-Germain deal running until next summer.
He could then opt to sign an extension or leave and either seal a return to Barcelona or head to the USA to headline MLS football.
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Originally Posted By Talk Sport