Lionel Messi‘s World Cup career will come to an end in Qatar. “This will be my last World Cup, no doubt about it,” he confirmed to ESPN’s Sebastian Vignolo.
Lionel Messi announcing that this World Cup will be his last one 😔 pic.twitter.com/FG0QxGVWhd
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well-prepared for pre-season
So far this season, Messi has always maintained an excellent competitive state, scoring 8 goals and providing 8 assists for Paris Saint-Germain in 13 games in all competitions. At the national team level, the Argentine captain also had an outstanding performance: when he played in Honduras and Jamaica, he scored twice in a row to seal the victory for the team. Messi said he was “feeling well physically,” and that being well-prepared for the season was the main reason.
“I had a great preseason this year, which I couldn’t do the previous season. I had to start in a different way than last year, with the mentality I had in the past.”
Outlook for the 2022 World Cup
Messi has been in great form this season, and Argentina is not far behind. Since 2018, the Argentina team has only lost 4 games and has set a record of 35 consecutive unbeaten games in all competitions. In terms of honor, the Argentine team has won two consecutive championship titles in the past year: the 2021 Copa America champion and the 2022 European and American Cup champion.
As Argentina’s current leader, Messi has heaped praise on his side while being cautious about Argentina’s chances of winning the title. He told Vignolo that he “felt a little anxious, a little nervous” but couldn’t wait for the World Cup to come. “Everything is going well now,” Messi said. “Our team has reached a great level, well-organized and strong. But at the World Cup, anything can happen. All the games are going to be very tough.”
“The favourites don’t always end up winning. I don’t know if we’re the favourites, but based on Argentina’s history, it’s always been one of the World Cup candidates. We’re not the favourites. I think some teams are better than us, but we will go up against anyone.”
A look back at the national team’s career
Messi’s early career with Argentina is in stark contrast to his success at the club level. Until July 2021, Argentina and Messi have missed the title three times in a row – defeat by Germany in the 2014 World Cup final and two consecutive losses to Chile in the Copa America final two years later.
Looking back on the past, Messi said with a sense of sympathy: “I have played for the national team for a long time. We had some great moments, such as in 2014, 2015, and 2016. However, we were criticized for not winning. … We did everything right before the final.”
“We are in a very difficult situation. But in 2019, a team with young talent came and won the Copa America. Winning the title helped us a lot,” Messi added. “When we won the Copa America, I couldn’t believe it, I didn’t know how to explain it, but it was like saying ‘this is it, I got what I needed.”
“It’s one of the things I have to accomplish to end everything. It’s important for me to win something with Argentina, otherwise, I’ll be burdened with ‘losing the final and not being able to give myself to the national team’ for the rest of my life. Haunted. At that moment, in the picture where you saw me kneeling, I thought ‘it’s all done’.”
“My love for the Argentine people is unconditional. I am so grateful for what I have experienced and enjoyed. It is very special.”
In an exclusive interview with ESPN’s Star+ program, in addition to publicly talking about his future with the national team for the first time, Messi also mentioned his plans for the future. He told Vignolo that he was more inclined to pursue football-related work after retiring. “I didn’t intend to be a coach, but Zidane said that at one point and he became a coach and won three Champions Leagues,” Messi said. “I love sports management, team building, working with coaches, but I’m not 100 percent sure.”
“I never set out to be the best player in history. I guess I’m just a footballer. On the pitch, we’re all the same, and when the game starts, I always try my best to make myself better. When I retire, I hope I’ll be remembered as a good guy.”