Putting in arguably the most famous display of his historic career in Sunday’s World Cup final, it is hard to argue that Lionel Messi has not cemented his place as the greatest player of all-time.
Bagging a brace in Lusail and dragging Argentina to a first world crown since 1986, the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner has also made it clear that he will not be ending his international adventure with the South American giants.
Now held across Argentina in the same regard as his idol Diego Maradona, Messi has almost written a whole new chapter in the World Cup’s storied history books.
Finally getting the chance to lift the Jules Rimet trophy in what still looks set to have been his final appearance on the world stage, the 35-year-old also broke a string of World Cup records in the Middle East.
Handed a heroes welcome on his return to Buenos Aires earlier in the week, we have taken a look at some of the sensational records that Messi surpassed in Qatar this winter.
Most World Cup Appearances
Although Messi might have opened this year’s Qatar quest with the chance to become the World Cup’s all-time appearance maker, the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner knew that it would only take a final run for him to surpass Lothar Matthaus’s long-standing record.
Making his first World Cup appearance way back in June 2006 when still tipped as a budding superstar, the PSG talisman has now started in every game in each of Argentina’s last four World Cup adventures.
Along with lifting the Jules Rimet trophy for the first time, that was also Messi’s 26th World Cup appearance – a showdown that saw him move one game clear of the former German trailblazer.
Likewise, along with racking up the most World Cup appearances in last weekend’s stunning penalties victory against France, he also became Argentina’s most distinguished player on the world stage.
First Ever Two-Time Golden Ball Winner
Bagging that iconic World Cup final brace last weekend and setting Qatar alight with a string of extraordinary performances, it wasn’t a surprise to see Messi awarded with this year’s Golden Ball.
While it might have eventually been PSG teammate Kylian Mbappe who snapped up this winter’s Golden Boot, Messi moved clear of what is an historic list of World Cup superstars that spans decades.
First getting his hands on a World Cup Golden Ball as Argentina eventually had to settle for a heartbreaking silver medal finish in Brazil back in 2014, the 35-year-old is also the only La Albiceleste star beside Maradona to claim the individual accolade.
However, while Messi might have made more history in Qatar, he was not the only Argentina icon to claim an award. Enzo Fernandez was named Young Player of the Tournament, while Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez picked up the Golden Glove trophy.
Most Player Of The Match Awards
With the first World Cup Man of the Match award introduced back in 2002, it is fair to say that Messi has gone on a real international romp over the past two decades.
Claiming the award on five separate occasions during his famous Middle Eastern adventure this year, Argentina’s attacking phenom also surpassed Wesley Sneijder’s record for the most individual awards in a single tournament.
Taking his overall World Cup Man of the Match tally to eight following Sunday’s epic final in Lusail, Messi would have also been glad to move one clear of his arch-rival.
With fellow superstar Cristiano Ronaldo likely ending his World Cup career with seven Man of the Match accolades, the record-breaker would have undoubtedly been glad to get one over on his fellow icon.
Most World Cup Goal Contributions
Although Messi’s famous run out in Qatar this winter might be remembered by his crucial late goals, the 35-year-old is so much more than just a finisher in Scaloni’s squad.
The talisman that is always at the heart of everything good that Argentina produced on the world stage this year, the ex-Barcelona record-breaker almost played a deciding role in each of La Albiceleste’s Middle Eastern goals.
Along with racking up seven World Cup strikes, Messi also left Qatar with three assists to his name – the joint-best return of any superstar this winter.
In fact, throughout his five World Cup appearances, the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner has now notched 21 direct goal involvements, the most by a single player since records began back in 1966.
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