Argentina captain Lionel Messi made history before a ball was kicked in the World Cup final as he broke the record for tournament appearances.
The 35-year-old was unsurprisingly named in Lionel Scaloni’s starting line-up for Sunday’s showcase clash with France, where he’s aiming to win his first World Cup title.
It will be Messi’s 26th World Cup appearance, moving him ahead of Germany legend Lothar Matthaus in the all-time rankings.
Matthaus, who won the world crown in 1990, made 25 appearances for his country at international football’s biggest tournament.
Behind him are compatriot Miroslav Klose (24 appearances), Italy’s Paolo Maldini (23) and Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal (22).
Messi is competing in his fifth World Cup and he has admitted that at the age of 35, it is likely to be his last.
He captained Argentina to the final in Brazil in 2014, but they were beaten 1-0 by Germany in extra-time.
The PSG forward has been in stunning form in Qatar and is the joint-top scorer at the tournament with five goals, alongside France’s Kylian Mbappe.
The World Cup trophy is the only major honour to have eluded Messi in his glittering career.
Victory over France would make Argentina world champions for the first time since the Diego Maradona-inspired 1986 campaign, and the third time overall, the other coming in 1978.