Lionel Messi to continue playing for Argentina after World Cup final victory


Lionel Messi has no plans to imminently retire from international football because he wants to “continue playing as a champion”.

Messi, 35, scored twice on Sunday to help Argentina win their third World Cup — and first since 1986.

Messi will be 38 by the time the next World Cup starts in 2026 — and will turn 39 during the tournament — but the forward has said he does not intend to immediately retire after the final.

“I’m not retiring from the national team,” he said after the final. 

“I want to continue playing as a champion.”

Messi had previously said that he expects the Qatar World Cup to be his last.

“It’s my last World Cup,” he said after the semi-final victory over Croatia.

“It is impressive to end up playing a final. There’s a long way to go for the next one, there are many years and surely because of age I won’t get to it.”

Argentina beat France on penalty kicks in arguably the greatest final in the history of the tournament on Sunday.

Messi opened the scoring for Argentina and his side appeared on course for glory when Angel Di Maria doubled their lead before the half-time interval.

But Kylian Mbappe hit back from the spot and then took the game into extra time after he scored a stunning volley.

Messi scored again for Argentina in extra time, only for Mbappe to complete his hat-trick minutes before the end of the game. Argentina prevailed on penalty kicks, however, with Kingsley Coman and Aurelien Tchouameni both missing from the spot.

“It is crazy that it has happened this way,” Messi said afterwards.

“I wanted it very much. I knew that God was going to give it to me, I believed that it was going to be this way. Now to enjoy it.”

(Photo: Getty Images)


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