Lionel Messi hopes to continue Argentina career after 'amazing' World Cup triumph

Captain leads the way as South Americans defeat France in one of the greatest finals in history

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Lionel Messi has promised to continue his international career after he led Argentina, finally, to World Cup glory.

The national team captain, 35, realised a long-held ambition on Sunday night at the Lusail Stadium north of Doha, scoring twice as Argentina eventually saw off reigning champions France on penalties.

The match, surely to go down as one of the greatest finals in history, had finished 2-2 in normal time – Argentina were 2-0 up until the 80th minute – and then 3-3 in extra-time.

Messi’s 108th-minute goal appeared to have sealed it, before Kylian Mbappe completed his hat-trick on the night to force the shoot-out. Argentina went on to win 4-2 on penalties.

Messi, who had after the semi-final triumph against Croatia said this would be his final World Cup, told Argentine TV following the win on Sunday: "I want to keep experiencing a few more matches as world champion. Obviously I would like to end my career with this - I cannot ask for more.

"My career is nearly over because these are my last years."

Messi, who has won almost every other major trophy – last year, he captained Argentina to the Copa America crown – seemed destined to miss out on the game’s greatest prize.

He lost the final to Germany in 2014, despite being named player of that tournament.

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On Sunday, after collecting another award for best player, he said: "It's crazy that it happened at the time it happened, but it's amazing.

"It's amazing that it could end this way. I said previously that God was going to grant me this and, I don't know why, but I felt it was going to be this time."

On the match, which forged a similar path to Argentina’s quarter-final victory against the Netherlands, also on penalties, Messi said: "It was a very strange match, the same as the other one against the Netherlands, and then when we went ahead in extra-time, it happened again.”

Meanwhile, Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni would not entirely rule out Messi representing his country at another World Cup. Messi will be 38 by the time the tournament kicks off in the US, Canada and Mexico in the summer of 2026; he will turn 39 during it.

“First of all, we need to save him a spot for the next World Cup 2026," Scaloni said. "If he wants to keep playing, he’ll be with us. I think that he’s more than entitled to decide whether he wants to keep playing for Argentina or not, or what he wants to do with his career.

“It’s such a huge pleasure for us to coach him and his teammates. Everything that he meets with his teammates is something unparalleled, something I’ve never seen before. A player, a person who gives so much to his teammates.”

Updated: December 19, 2022, 11:32 AM