Lionel Messi admits this is most likely his last chance to fulfil his “dream” of winning the World Cup with Argentina.
Paris Saint-Germain’s Messi has played at the four previous World Cups, coming closest to winning it in 2014 when Argentina lost to Germany in the final.
He will be 38 years old when the 2026 World Cup starts.
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“This is a special moment, most likely my last World Cup,” said Messi ahead of Argentina’s Group C opener against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.
“My last opportunity to make my dream, our dream, a reality.”
Argentina are one of the favourites to lift the trophy along with South American rivals Brazil.
However, much of Argentina’s chances will rest on Messi, who has been in excellent form this season for PSG.
“I am feeling very well, I am very well,” said Messi.
“I think that I come here in great form both personally and physically. I have no issues whatsoever. I heard there were rumours about having to miss part of training, no, it’s just precautions. Nothing strange or out of the ordinary.
“We’re in the middle of the season and I feel well. Once we start playing a few more games, we will get pace and I have been playing recently. That’s what I’ve been trying to do recently up until the World Cup.
“I haven’t done anything different, I just took care of myself.”
Argentina also face Mexico and Poland in their group.
Messi says he gets the same vibes from the current team as in 2014, when they beat Belgium and Netherlands before losing to Germany 1-0 in extra-time.
“We are ready, we feel well and it’s always such a special moment to play a World Cup. The atmosphere, a new beginning ahead of a new match. It’s always very special.
“This squad really reminds me of that of 2014…we were very united, we were very clear about what we had to do on a pitch and it’s great to come here with such great form and it gives you confidence.”
Lionel Messi after Argentina lost to Germany in the 2014 World Cup final
Image credit: Getty Images
Messi has 12 goals and 14 assists in 19 games for PSG this season in all competitions.
He has also been in brilliant form for Argentina, scoring 10 goals in his last four international matches and having multiple goal contributions in five straight games.
“I don’t know if it’s the best moment of my career but I feel really well,” he said.
“Maybe a bit more mature, always trying to give the best and enjoy everything. Again, trying to enjoy each moment. I think I am really enjoying it much more now.
“Before, maybe I didn’t think about that, I just wanted to play but now I am trying to enjoy it. When you play every three days, you don’t have time to enjoy. Now we have to enjoy a bit more. Before it was just playing and thinking about the next game. One just wants to keep playing and winning.
“I missed a lot of things in my career and now I think I am just trying to enjoy it a bit more.”
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