Argentina captain Lionel Messi will not retire from international football, saying he wants to continue playing as a world champion.
Messi scored twice for Argentina in Sunday’s thrilling World Cup final against France as the game ended 3-3 after extra time, before converting in the penalty shootout which his team won 4-2 to claim football’s biggest prize.
Despite being 35, Messi wants to continue playing for his country beyond this World Cup, dispelling any doubts he could retire.
“I will not retire,” he said. “I want to continue playing as a World Cup champion.
“It’s the most beautiful thing ever,” Messi told TyC Sports. “Look what it is, it’s beautiful, I wanted it very much. God was going to give it to me, I felt like it was, we suffered a lot, but we got it.
“Obviously I wanted to close my career with that, I can’t ask for anything more. Thank God he gave me everything. To almost close my career like that is impressive.
“After that, what will be? I was able to get the Copa América, the World Cup… It came to me almost at the end. I love football, what I do. I like being in the national team, the group, I want to continue to live a few more matches by being world champion.
“I can’t wait to be in Argentina to see how crazy it’s going to be.”
Scaloni: If Messi wants to keep playing, he will be with us
Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni has told Messi he can continue playing for Argentina for as long as he wants.
Scaloni, who was a teammate of Messi for Argentina, even hinted at the possibility of Messi continuing until the next World Cup in 2026 when he would be 39.
“First of all, we have to save him a place for the next World Cup in 2026 if he wants to continue playing. If he wants to continue playing, he will be with us,” said Scaloni, who is not become only the third coach. win the World Cup and the Copa America.
“He has more than the right to decide whether he wants to continue playing for Argentina or not, and what he wants to do with his career. It’s a huge pleasure for us to train him and his teammates.
“Everything he passes on to his teammates is something unparalleled, something I’ve never seen before. A player, a person who gives so much to his teammates.”
Deschamps: Mbappe left his mark on this final
Messi will be in the headlines, but France’s Kylian Mbappe was arguably the best player at the Lusail stadium on Sunday night as his hat-trick took Argentina all the way.
Twice, Mbappe inspired a France comeback to lead the game on penalties by scoring the first hat-trick in a World Cup final since Geoff Hurst’s hat-trick for England in 1966.
France head coach Didier Deschamps felt Mbappe’s involvement would be remembered even if the Blues miss out on a successive World Cup trophy.
“Kylian really marked that final,” Deschamps said. “But unfortunately he didn’t leave it as he would have liked and that’s why he was so disappointed at the end of the match like all the players.”
Deschamps was fired after the game and said France “came back from the dead” against Argentina.
“Obviously we have some regrets on this first part of the game, then we go into extra time, where we could have won at the last minute,” he said. “Unfortunately he didn’t come in and then he went on penalties.
“There were a number of reasons why we were just not as good as we could have been, and we had a very strong opponent.
“We were maybe a bit lacking in energy. Some of our key players were lacking in energy.
“But, nevertheless, we had young, more inexperienced players who came in and brought freshness and quality and they were able to get us back in the game and keep the dream alive.
“But unfortunately, at the end of the day, we couldn’t make that dream come true.”
Pelé: Maradona is smiling now
Brazil legend Pele has congratulated Messi and Argentina on their World Cup victory and said the late Diego Maradona is ‘smiling now’.
Maradona, who led Argentina to their last World Cup success in 1986, died in November 2020 aged 60 following cardiac arrest.
Pele also offered his sympathy to Mbappe after he failed in the final despite a hat-trick on Sunday and praised Morocco for becoming the first African nation to reach the World Cup semi-final.
“Football today continues to tell its story in an exciting way as always, with Messi winning his first World Cup, as his trajectory deserved,” he posted on Instagram.
“My dear friend, Mbappe, scored four goals in the final. What a gift it was to watch this spectacle for the future of our sport.
“And I couldn’t fail to congratulate Morocco for this incredible campaign. It’s great to see Africa shine.
“Congratulations Argentina! Definitely Diego (Maradona) is smiling now.”
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