While leading Argentina to the final of the FIFA World Cup with a 3-0 victory over Croatia, Lionel Messi has inched a step closer to fulfilling his biggest dream — adding the World Cup crown to the dozens of titles he has won in club cricket.
The 35-year-old scored a goal in the match through a penalty, which is his fifth in Qatar 2022.
In the process of taking Argentina to the final, Messi set many records and also set himself up for bettering more marks in international football and FIFA World Cup when Argentina take on the winner of the second semifinal between France and Morocco.
Messi is one of only six men to have played in five World Cups alongside Antonio Carbajal, Lothar Matthaus, Rafa Marquez, Andres Guardado and Cristiano Ronaldo, according to a report on fifa.com website.
He now shares the record with German World Cup-winning captain Lothar Matthaus for the most World Cup appearances — 25. He will overtake the German legend if he plays the final on Sunday.
Messi has made a record 18 appearances as captain in the World Cup. He is followed by Rafa Marquez (17) and Diego Maradona (16).
He is the only player to register an assist in five World Cup editions. His closest challengers are Pele, Grzegorz Lato, Diego Maradona and David Beckham, who set up goals in three editions apiece.
Pele and Messi share the record for the most assists in the knockout phase (6).
Messi is Argentina’s leading marksman in the World Cup with 11 goals. He is followed by Gabriel Batistuta (10), Diego Maradona (8), Guillermo Stabile (8), Mario Kempes (6) and Gonzalo Higuain (5).
Paolo Maldini has played the most minutes in World Cup history: 2,217. Messi is on 2,194 and could surpass the Italian in the Qatar 2022 final.
Messi is the only player to score in the World Cup in his teens, 20s and 30s. Pele missed out on accomplishing the same by four months.
Messi scored his first and latest World Cup goals 16 years and 180 days apart. The next biggest span in World Cup history belongs to Cristiano Ronaldo at 16 years and 160 days.