Lionel Messi will play in the sixth senior international final of his career on Sunday when Argentina line up for the 2022 World Cup final.
It is the country’s sixth World Cup final appearance overall, winning twice in 1978 and 1986, but losing in 1930, 1990 and 2014.
Messi himself previously played in the 2014 showpiece against Germany when Mario Gotze scored the winner deep into extra-time.
The first senior final Messi played in with Argentina came way back in 2007 in the Copa America. He was just 20 at the time and still a relative newcomer to the international game, having made his debut in 2005. It also came off the back of his first full season at first-team level with Barcelona following what had been an injury-hit 2005/06 campaign.
La Albiceleste played against Brazil in the final in Venezuela but were thumped 3-0.
The following year, Messi was part of the Argentina Under-23 squad that won a gold medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, but it was another six years before his next senior final.
As mentioned, the 2014 World Cup final ended in defeat, but Argentina returned to a final the very next year in the Copa America. But after 0-0 draw over 120 minutes against hosts Chile, Messi and co. eventually lost on penalties, although Messi was the only Argentine player to score his.
The 2016 Copa America Centenario final was a repeat of 2015, both in teams and result as Argentina once more lost to Chile on penalties after a goal-less stalemate. This time, Messi actually missed in the shootout and was devastated by another international final defeat.
After that game, Messi immediately announced his shock retirement from international football. But he was eventually persuaded to reconsider his snap decision and officially reversed it only a few weeks later.
There was another lengthy gap between finals as Argentina fell short at the 2018 World Cup and 2019 Copa America, but La Albiceleste returned to the Copa America final in 2021. By this time, Messi’s desperate pursuit of an international trophy had become a major theme.
Thankfully for him and Argentina, who were chasing a first major international title since 1993, they prevailed 1-0 over Brazil in the final thanks to a single Angel Di Maria goal.
Now, with a Copa America title in his locker, Messi is looking to add the last remaining trophy of his career in what will be his last ever World Cup appearance.