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Will continue to play few games as World Champion, would not retire : Lionel Messi

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FIFA World Cup 2022 Argentina Lionel Messi
Image: Twitter/ @FIFAWorldCup

After helping Argentina win the 2022 World Cup in a stunning penalty shootout victory over France on Sunday, Lionel Messi has said he would not retire from international football.

“I won the Copa America and the World Cup in a short time. I love what I do, being in the national team, and I want to continue living a few more games being a world champion. I am going to take the Cup to Argentina to enjoy it with you,” said Messi as quoted by ESPN.

Argentina’s first global championship since Diego Maradona led them to victory in Mexico in 1986 was the fulfilment of a “childhood dream” according to Messi.

“It’s anyone’s childhood dream. I was lucky to have achieved everything in this career … and this one that was missing is here. It’s madness … look how she [the World Cup] is, she’s gorgeous. I wanted her so much. I had a vision that this would be the one … she was getting closer. We suffer, but we already have it (the World Cup). I wanted to close my career with this. I can no longer ask for anything else, thank God, he gave me everything,” said the 35-year-old talismanic striker.

Argentina’s head coach Lionel Scaloni said during a post-match interview that Messi is welcome to play for the team in the 2026 World Cup. “First of all, we need to save him a spot for the World Cup 2026. If he wants to keep playing, he will be with us. I think he is more than entitled to decide whether he wants to keep playing or what he wants to do with his career. It is such a huge pleasure for us to coach him and his teammates. Everything that he transmits to his teammates is something unparalleled, something I have never seen before a player, a person who gives so much to his teammates,” expressed Scaloni.

After announcing that the 2022 World Cup would be his last, Messi, 35, set the record for most World Cup appearances on Sunday when he played in his 26th match.

At the Lusail Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Messi first scored from the penalty spot before adding another goal in extra time when the ball dropped to him in the 6-yard box.

A few minutes later, France’s Kylian Mbappe scored a penalty to complete his hat trick, but Argentina prevailed 4-2 in the shootout to win their third World Cup.

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