Lionel Messi got his highly anticipated fairytale ending over the weekend, as he lifted the World Cup trophy at the fifth time of asking. Argentina claimed a dramatic penalty shootout victory over France in what has been dubbed as one of the best finals in the history of the competition.
The heavily billed battle of Messi and Kylian Mbappe at the Lusail Stadium came to fruition, as the pair scored five goals between them. It was the former’s penalty and Angel Di Maria’s second that gifted the South American side a deserved two-goal lead at half-time, before Mbappe’s late double brought it back to 2-2 despite France not having a single shot on target for 80 minutes. The action didn’t stop there, as Messi’s 108th minute goal looked to have clinched the win, until another penalty from the French star levelled it up once again. Despite Mbappe netting his third penalty during the shootout, it was Kingsley Coman and Aurelian Tchouameni’s failure to convert that cost them their second consecutive World Cup.
It was a tournament that Messi and every football fan around the world will never forget, as the 35-year-old was also handed the Golden Ball award for his spectacular performances that saw him claim seven goals and three assists in only seven matches. The tournament in Qatar will undoubtedly be his last World Cup and the storyline for the past month or so has always been around the question of whether he would finally win the biggest international tournament in world football.
While it is clear Messi won’t appear in the Argentina squad for the 2026 World Cup, there are still questions to be answered as to whether he will retire from international duty upon his return from Qatar, or whether he will continue under Lionel Scaloni for a little longer. Here is everything that has been said about Lionel Messi’s plans for the future.
Will Lionel Messi retire from international football?
Lionel Messi has quashed speculation that he will now retire from international football following World Cup glory in the middle east. Speaking on Argentinian TV channel TyC Sports, the PSG forward said: “Obviously I wanted to cap my career with this and I can’t ask for anything more. What will happen after this? I’ve managed to win the Copa America and the World Cup almost at the end.
“I love football, it’s what I do. I enjoy being in the national team and want to continue by experiencing a few more games as a world champion. I was lucky to clinch every title in my career, this was the only one missing. I want to take this one there [to Argentina] and enjoy it with everybody else.”
Despite his eagerness to continue with Argentina, Messi did confirm that this winter’s tournament was his final World Cup. When asked if the final against France would be his last World Cup game, he replied: “As I’ve said before, it is. They [the fans in Argentina] should wait for us. We’re coming home to celebrate with them.
“We’ve done it. We couldn’t have asked for more. I thank God for everything he gave me, for this outcome, for this trophy that I dreamt of, my team-mates and Argentina too. What can I say…we are world champions.”
How did Lionel Messi fare in previous World Cups?
Lionel Messi made his World Cup debut in 2008 when he was only 18 years old though spent a majority of the tournament on the bench before Argentina were knocked out at the quarter-finals by Germany. The South American became more of a regular on the pitch in South Africa four years later, though the national team were once again knocked out by the Germans in the quarter-finals, suffering a 4-0 loss.
Messi came extremely close to lifting the World Cup trophy in 2014 and ended the tournament with four goals and one assist, though their meeting with Germany in the final was all too familiar and Mario Gotze’s 113th minute winner left him wondering if he would ever win a major tournament with his country. Argentina’s trip to Russia four years later was the worst of the lot for Messi as they were knocked out by France in the Round of 16 after winning only one group game.