In a dramatic World Cup final match-up between Argentina and the defending champions France, Lionel Messi led his team and nation to their first World Cup win since 1986. In what many believed to be his last World Cup appearance, the 35-year-old scored two of the three goals in regulation and overtime play. Netting his penalty, Messi led Argentina to win against France, who  missed two of their penalty kicks in the shootout round, 4-2. 

With an early loss to Saudi Arabia in the group stage and in the shadow of their loss against Germany in the 2014 World Cup final, there were doubts about Messi’s chance to claim the hardware this year. Yet, after a disappointing entrance to the tournament, he came roaring back and became the first player in FIFA history to score a goal in the group stage, Round of 16, Quarterfinal, Semifinal, and Final. Winning Player of the Tournament, Messi exited arguably the best soccer competition in the world as an all-around winner.

Excluding his historic World Cup win, Messi has won title after title in the soccer world. During his 17-year tenure with FC Barcelona, his team won the La Liga title 10 times and the UEFA Champions League four times. Scoring an incomprehensible 672 goals in just 778 appearances at Barcelona, he also won the Ballon d’Or, the most prestigious individual soccer title, six times. In 2021, Messi captained Argentina to win the Copa América for their first national title win since 1993. As a Paris St-Germain player, Messi was awarded the Ballon d’Or again for a record-breaking seventh time. 

On top of holding the Ballon d’Or record, Messi holds multiple records across his club and national accomplishments. He holds the record for the most La Liga goals (474), La Liga hat tricks (36), South American international male goals (98), and the most goals by a player for a single club (672). 

There are countless accomplishments, records, and recognitions that Messi has held throughout his career, and it appears he isn’t done with the football world just yet. Achieving his childhood dream of a World Cup title, Messi intends to keep playing for his national team for a little longer. While watching the recent World Cup, it’s clear the joy and pride his teammates have to play with such a legend. As teammate and Argentinian goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez put it during the tournament: “People say the favorites are France. But we have the greatest player of all time.” The determination of the entire Argentinian team helped their captain and nation win the most important title in the soccer world, and many have hailed this World Cup Final as the best one ever. There is little to no doubt that Messi has rightfully claimed the status as one of the greatest footballers of all time.