Lionel Messi hints at FIFA World Cup U-turn after trophy haul as Argentina skipper breaks silence on retirement plans
One couldn't have asked for a better finish to a World Cup career, given Messi had twice clarified earlier that the World Cup final will be his last appearance in the tournament. But it seems the Argentina captain has hinted towards a U-turn.
A month back Argentina were battling to make it to the Round of 16 after a shocking defeat to Saudi Arabia. Lionel Messi had urged to fans to keep faith. And he delivered, in epic fashion. The Argentina skipper guided the team not just to final, but scored twice in the dramatic tie against France on Sunday night in Lusail Stadium to lift the elusive FIFA World Cup trophy which had eluded him in his illustrious career. One couldn't have asked for a better finish to a World Cup career, given Messi had twice clarified earlier that the World Cup final will be his last appearance in the tournament. But it seems the Argentina captain has hinted towards a U-turn.
Before the start of the World Cup in Qatar, the 35-year-old had stated that it would his final appearance in the tournament. He stated the same moments after Argentina beat Croatia in the semi-finals last week.
However, moments after Messi ended his long wait for a World Cup trophy, he revealed that he would continue playing for Argentina.
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Messi said: “It’s simply unbelievable. I knew that God was going to give me the Cup, I was sure — it was a big joy for us. I had this big dream for a long time, I wanted to close my career with a World Cup. I can’t ask more than this. No, I’m not going to retire from the national team. I want to keep playing as World Cup champions with the Argentina shirt.”
Argentina boss Scaloni opined after the final against France where Argentina won 4-2 via penalty shootout, that Messi could still make the next World Cup in 2026 and has left the door open for the captain, leaving the decision up to him.
"We need to save him for the next World Cup – 2026. If Leo wants to keep playing, then he will be with us. He is more than entitled to decide what he wants to do with his career now," he said. "It’s such a huge pleasure to coach him and his team mates because everything he transmits to his teammates is incredible. He gives us so much.
“I am so proud. I am so happy to be World Cup winners. We should have won the match in 90 minutes, then extra time but we were fighters and we were very strong. We kept fighting because we wanted the win so much.
“These players play for the people, they play for the Argentina fans, they play for the whole country. The players broke their backs because they understood what they had to do on the pitch and we are very, very happy and proud.”