Messi breaks record as Argentina goes home with World Cup trophy
After winning the 2022 World Cup final, Lionel Messi has surpassed Lothar Matthäus (Germany) for the record of most FIFA World Cup matches played in by a player (26).
Argentina started the match brightly against France as Messi scored a penalty in the 23rd minute to put his side 1-0 up, before Ángel Di María doubled their lead 13 minutes later.
However, disaster struck deep into the second half as Mbappé scored two goals in two minutes to take the game into extra time.
Unfazed, Messi again put Argentina ahead, although this goal was soon negated by Mbappé, who scored a penalty in the 118th minute to equal Geoff Hurst’s (UK) record for the most goals by a player in a FIFA World Cup final.
Argentina won the following penalty shootout 4-2 to claim their third World Cup trophy, 36 years after winning their last.
Argentina extended their record for the most penalty shoot-out victories in FIFA World Cup tournaments by ateam (6).
Messi played sensationally throughout the tournament, setting four other Guinness World Records titles in the process:
Most Man of the Match awards won at the FIFA World Cup: 9
First person to assist at five different FIFA World Cups
Most FIFA World Cup appearances as captain: 19
Most appearances in FIFA World Cup tournaments by a player (male): 5
Before the start of the 2022 World Cup, Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Arjen Robben had each won six Man of the Match awards at World Cup tournaments.
Messi pulled ahead of the pack after a string of dazzling performances, earning Man of the Match in four games.
By contrast, Cristiano Ronaldo was awarded Man of the Match once in Qatar, after scoring in Portugal’s opening match against Ghana.
This match saw Ronaldo hit the headlines for becoming the first person to score at five different World Cups, however, not to be outdone, Messi then became the first person to assist at five different World Cups.
His assist to Enzo Fernández sealed a much-needed 2-0 victory for Argentina against Mexico as they sought to bounce back from their shock defeat to Saudi Arabia.
Argentina went on to defeat Poland 2-0, before edging out Australia 2-1 in the round of 16.
Argentina played the Netherlands in the quarter-final, where Messi put on another masterclass by both assisting and scoring. However, things went a bit awry as Netherlands clawed their way back in the final 18 minutes, thanks to a brace from substitute Wout Weghorst.
In the ensuing penalty shootout, Messi scored Argentina’s first spot kick as they went on to win 4-3.
The semi-final against Croatia was arguably Messi’s best World Cup performance to date; he pulled all the strings as Argentina cruised to a 3-0 victory.
Messi converted a penalty in the first half, then provided a world-class assist to Julián Álvarez in the second.
This was Messi’s 18th time captaining his country at the World Cup, breaking Rafael Márquez’s (Mexico) record of most FIFA World Cup appearances as captain.
The 2022 World Cup was the fifth of Messi’s career; equalling the record for the most appearances in FIFA World Cup tournaments by a player (male), which is also shared by Lothar Matthäus, Rafael Márquez, Antonio Carbajal, Cristiano Ronaldo and Andrés Guardado.
Messi made his World Cup debut at Germany 2006, where he came on as a late substitute in Argentina’s group-stage game against Serbia and Montenegro. Within minutes, Messi assisted Hernán Crespo before scoring the final goal himself in a 6-0 victory.
Aged 18 at the time, Messi became the sixth-youngest goalscorer in the competition’s history.
The record for the youngest scorer in a FIFA World Cup belongs to Pelé, who was 17 years 239 days old when he scored for Brazil against Wales, at Gothenburg, Sweden on 19 June 1958.
Despite showing flashes of brilliance whenever he played, Messi remained an unused sub as Argentina crashed out of the 2006 World Cup in the quarter-finals against Germany.
The 2010 World Cup in South Africa was another rough ride for Argentina as they scraped their way through qualification, before eventually being eliminated by Germany in the quarter-finals again. Messi was the focal point of Argentina’s play, however, he didn’t manage to score in the tournament.
Messi captained Argentina once during the 2010 World Cup, becoming their youngest ever captain in the competition. Diego Maradona (Argentina’s manager at the time) handed Messi the armband for the final group-stage game against Greece, as most other senior players were rested. Messi assumed captaincy full time in 2011.
At the 2014 World Cup, Messi suffered the ultimate heartbreak as he carried his country all the way to the final, only to lose to their old rivals Germany in extra time.
During the 2018 tournament, Messi became the first player to score in the World Cup in his teens, twenties, and thirties. Argentina came second in their group, behind eventual-finalists Croatia. Eventual-champions France then handed Argentina a 4-3 defeat in the round of 16.
Four years on, Argentina have now avenged this loss and Messi has finally achieved World Cup glory.
Messi recently stated that this was likely to be his last World Cup. After the semi-final against Croatia, he said, “There are a lot of years from this year to the next one. I don’t think I will be able to do that. To finish this way is brilliant.”
However, if there’s one player that could still perform at an elite level aged 39, it’s Messi.
In the meantime, once he returns to PSG, he’ll be eyeing up a few of Ronaldo’s Champions League records.
Messi requires two more assists and one more penalty to equal the most Champions League assists (42) and most successful penalties taken by a player in the Champions League (19).