Argentina captain Lionel Messi confirmed that Sunday’s final against Morocco or France will be his last World Cup appearance as he seeks to bow out in style.
The 35-year-old played a leading role in Argentina’s 3-0 semi-final win over Croatia with a goal and an assist.
Messi, a seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, had previously indicated this would be his last World Cup finals, which he reinforced after Tuesday’s triumph.
“I am proud to be able to finish my World Cup journey playing this final,” Messi told reporters. “What I’m experiencing is exciting. Sunday will be my last game in a World Cup.
“It will be many years before the next one  and I don’t think I’ll be able to make it, so I hope I can finish in the best way.”
Messi’s goal against Croatia meant he became his country’s all-time leading scorer at World Cups, with his 11th strike seeing him move past Gabriel Batistuta.
The goal was also Messi’s 16th for Argentina in 2022, the most international strikes of any calendar year across his entire career.
“I’m enjoying it all very much,” Messi said about the 2022 World Cup. “I feel good. I feel strong to face every game. We have been making a big sacrifice.
“The last game we played was with extra time. That was not easy at all. We were tired, but the group got strength. We played a very important game. We knew it was going to be the match it was.
“I’m very happy. Throughout this World Cup I’ve been having a lot of fun and, luckily, I was able to help the group to get things done.”
Messi will be gunning for the ultimate crowning glory with his maiden World Cup title on Sunday, having played in 2014 when La Albiceleste were runners-up.
Argentina are into their sixth World Cup final, with only Germany (eight) having reached more in the competition.
6 – Argentina have reached the World Cup final for the sixth time, doing so in two of the last three editions of the competition (also in 2014) – only Germany (8) have reached more finals in the competition than Argentina (6 – level with Italy and Brazil). Journey. pic.twitter.com/pyTTtKeweU
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 13, 2022
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