Lionel Messi batted away the suggestion that he might retire from Argentina duty after claiming a first World Cup title in thrilling fashion, saying he wants to “continue as a champion”.
Messi scored twice, and again in the decisive penalty shoot-out, as the World Cup in Qatar was decided on penalties following a 3-3 draw after extra-time.
The 35-year-old won the Golden Ball awarded to the player of the tournament after scoring seven goals for his country to help them become world champions for the first time since 1986, and the third time overall.
“I’m not retiring from the national team. I want to continue playing as a champion,” Messi told TyC Sports afterwards.
Messi was under pressure to deliver his country’s World Cup for the first time since the Diego Maradona-inspired side of 1986, and this was his last chance in his fifth appearance at the tournament.
“It’s crazy that it happened this way. I wanted it very much,” Messi added.
“I knew that God was going to give it to me, I had a feeling that it was going to be this way. Now to enjoy it.”
He continued: “Look what this cup is, it’s beautiful. We suffered a lot, but we made it. We can’t wait to be in Argentina to see how crazy it’s going to be.”
Argentina did it the hard way, throwing away a 2-0 half-time lead to concede twice in the second half and force extra-time, before again surre
ut goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez saved Kingsley Coman’s effort before Aurelien Tchouameni missed, and Argentina stayed calm to convert all four of their penalties and take the win.
“It was a game where we suffered,” said Martinez.
“Two crappy shots and they levelled. They give them another penalty, they scored. Thank God later I did my thing, what I dreamed of.
“There could not have been a World Cup that I have dreamed of like this. I was calm during the penalties.”