June 3, 2023

Argentina‘s Lionel Messi has broken the record for most appearances at the World Cup, playing in his 26th game in the competition in Sunday’s final against France.

Messi was named in the starting lineup for the showpiece match at the Lusail Stadium in Doha, Qatar, and surpassed the previous record of 25 held by Germany’s Lothar Matthaus.

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Messi made his World Cup debut as an 18-year-old when coming on as a substitute — and scoring — in Argentina’s 6-0 win over Serbia and Montenegro in the group stage of the 2006 World Cup.

The Rosario native is the first Argentine to appear in five World Cups. From the 2010 edition on, he has featured in every one of Argentina’s World Cup games, including 2014, when he helped them reach the final in Brazil.

At the age of 35, the Paris Saint-Germain forward is enjoying his most productive World Cup.

Messi had five goals and three assists in six games heading into the final, putting him level with France’s Kylian Mbappe in the race for the Golden Boot.

– O’Hanlon: Why Messi is the best male athlete ever

His goal in the 3-0 semifinal win over Croatia also saw the former Barcelona star overtake Gabriel Batistuta as Argentina’s leading World Cup scorer with 11 goals.

Matthaus’ 25 appearances also came from five World Cups, from 1982 to 1998, and included captaining Germany to the trophy in 1990, when they defeated Argentina in the final.

Fellow-German Miroslav Klose, who holds the record for most World Cup goals with 16, is third on the list with 24 games played, while Italian defender Paolo Maldini is fourth with 23.

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