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End of an era: Messi and Ronaldo’s last World Cup

By William De Sousa Nov 9, 2022
Ronaldo and Messi shake hands before international friendly between Portugal and Argentina

The 2022 FIFA World Cup is set to be the last for two of the greatest footballers ever to play the game, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

These Argentinian and Portuguese players have shared the biggest football stage for 15 years, winning 12 Ballon d’Or awards between them over the course of their careers.

Although they have always been known as the best players of all time, both are yet to touch the greatest international prize of them all and hope they can lead their countries to World Cup glory in Qatar.

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi during a friendly football game between Argentina and Jamaica. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/Shutterstock

The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner announced last month that: “This will be my last World Cup for sure. The decision has been made.”

The Argentine made his World Cup debut at the age of 18 in 2006, where he scored his first ever goal in a 6-0 victory against Serbia and Montenegro.

In 2010, Argentina suffered what was a turbulent presence in the competition after their run ended in a 4-0 quarter-final defeat against Germany. They were torn apart yet still Messi’s performance got him named in FIFA’s top players of the tournament at only 23-years-old.

The World Cup in Brazil 2014 saw the height of Messi’s World Cup career as he reached the final of the competition where Argentina faced Germany yet again. But the final score of 1-0 resulted in heartbreak once again.

Although they did not win, Messi won best player of the tournament and he picked up his first ever Golden Ball award, just short of the ultimate prize.

After previously announcing his planned retirement from international football after the 2016 Copa America, Messi returned for his fourth World Cup with Argentina in Russia. His 2018 campaign came to an end after a 4-3 defeat to winners, France, leaving Messi fans worried that time was running out for the Argentine to pick up the prize.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo during the UEFA Nations League match between Portugal and Switzerland on June 05, 2022 in Lisbon, Portugal. Photo: Shutterstock

Ronaldo is the record goal scorer in international football competitions with over 100 goals for Portugal.

Like Messi, Ronaldo made his first World Cup appearance in 2006 with his first World Cup goal being against Iran, which made Ronaldo the youngest Portuguese player to score in a FIFA World Cup match at 21 years.

Before the 2010 FIFA World Cup came about, Cristiano Ronaldo had won the Ballon D’Or, the UEFA Champions League and became the most expensive player in the world a year earlier, when he made his move to Real Madrid from Manchester United for €94 million.

Unfortunately for Ronaldo, Portugal were knocked out after a 1-0 loss to eventual champions Spain.

In 2014, Portugal did not progress through to the knockout stage and Ronaldo’s only goal came against Ghana in the group stages.

Many will remember Cristiano Ronaldo’s infamous hat-trick against Spain in the 2018 Russia World Cup, after scoring stunning free kick in the 3-3 draw, and hoping that he can carry Portugal to their first ever World Cup trophy.

Messi’s World Cup goals

Goal NumberOpponent FIFA World Cup editionMatch
1Serbia and Montenegro Germany 2006Group stage
2Bosnia and HerzegovinaBrazil 2014Group Stage
3IranBrazil 2014Group stage
4NigeriaBrazil 2014Group Stage
5NigeriaBrazil 2014Group Stage
6NigeriaRussia 2018Group Stage

Ronaldo World Cup goals

Goal NumberOpponentFIFA World Cup editionMatch
1IranGermany 2006Group Stage
2North KoreaSouth Africa 2010Group Stage
3GhanaBrazil 2014Group Stage
4SpainRussia 2018Group Stage
5SpainRussia 2018Group Stage
6SpainRussia 2018Group Stage
7MoroccoRussia 2018Group Stage

By William De Sousa

Sport Editor for the River 2022-23. I enjoy writing match reports and like to keep up with sports news mostly Football. @WDSJourno

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