Lionel Messi, the captain of Argentina, declared that his participation in the Football World Cup last year would be his fifth and final.
The 35-year-old forward guided his nation to a third World Cup victory in Qatar last December while announcing that he would not be participating in further tournaments.
However, Messi was talked out of retiring from international play in 2016, and many of his countrymen hoped he would be talked into playing in the United States, Canada, and Mexico for the 2026 Football World Cup.
“I think not. This was my last World Cup,” Messi told Titan Sports ahead of Argentina’s friendly against Australia in Beijing.
“I’ll see how things go but in principle, I won’t go to the next World Cup.”
The seven-times Ballon d’Or winner, who recently announced a move from Paris St Germain to Inter Miami in the United States, also paid tribute to his former coach at Barcelona, Pep Guardiola.
Messi and Guardiola achieved two Champions League titles together at the Catalan club, and Messi expressed his delight as the Spaniard finally secured club football’s biggest prize with Manchester City last weekend.
“I talk a lot with Pep as we still maintain frequent contact. I am very happy about his achievement, winning the recent UEFA Champions League,” Messi told the Chinese sports paper in an interview.
“He is the best coach in the world, and although, in my opinion, he didn’t need to win this Champions League title to prove that, it further demonstrates that he is the world’s top coach, which is an achievement he deserves.”
Argentina play the Socceroos at the newly rebuilt Workers Stadium in the Chinese capital on Thursday.