Argentine football legend Lionel Messi said in an interview with football journalist Sebastián Vignolo that will retire before the 2026 FIFA World Cup. The update was shared by journalist and transfer specialist Fabrizio Romano via a Tweet on Thursday.

“This is my last World Cup for sure. The decision has been made,” Messi told Vignolo, making it clear that the tournament in Qatar will be his last shot at being crowned as the world champion in football. 

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Lionel Messi made his FIFA World Cup debut on June 16, 2006, in Germany. The footballer turned 35 in June this year and will be 39 during the 2026 World Cup. When he starts for Argentina in the Qatar World Cup, he will become the fifth oldest player to play in the tournament alongside Gilmar Rinaldi of Brazil.

The seven-times Ballon d’Or winner came close to winning the tournament in 2014 when Argentina reached the final under his captaincy. However, his dream was cut short by Mario Goetze of Germany who scored an extra-time goal to ensure the fourth World Cup for Germany. 

Messi started the 2022/23 season well after struggling to find his form last season. In the Champions League match against Benfica on Wednesday, he got a well-struck goal which saw Paris Saint-Germain draw the match 1-1 at full time. 

Also read: Why Lionel Messi missed out on a Ballon d’Or 2022 nomination

In his nine appearances in Ligue 1 so far this season for the French club, Messi produced an impressive five goals and seven assists. 

Argentina fans would be hopeful that he will carry this form onto the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The South American nation has been placed in Group C alongside Poland, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia. 

Messi is likely to play the first match when Argentina faces Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, November 22.