Lionel Messi finally laid his hands on the one trophy that had eluded him when he led Argentina to win their World Cup title on Sunday thanks to a penalty shootout win over France.
The Paris Saint-Germain striker scored twice in the game and converted his spot-kick as Argentina held on to win after throwing away a two-goal lead.
This was Messi’s fifth World Cup appearance, and, with his success, he has emulated legendary figures like Pele and Diego Maradona by winning the coveted prize.
It was the last major honour missing from his collection, and now it can be said that the Argentinian is genuinely the greatest player.
We bring you 17 incredible statistics that underline Messi’s legacy as one of the World Cup’s all-time greats:
- After starting in the final, Messi has become the player with the most World Cup appearances (26) in history, surpassing Germany’s Lothar Mattheus (25).
- The PSG forward is one of only six players to appear in five World Cups, along with his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo, Lothar Matthaus, Rafael Marquez, Antonio Carbajal and Andres Guardado. He’s the only player to have registered an assist at five different tournaments.
3. At the 2022 World Cup, he became the first player since Maradona in ‘86 to score five or more goals and create more than 20 chances in the same tournament
4. Messi is the first player in history to win the Golden Ball for the World Cup’s best player twice (2014 and 2022).
5. Messi’s seven goals and three assists in Qatar equalled Maradona’s goal contribution record at Mexico ‘86 (five goals, five assists).
6. Messi played every minute of Argentina’s World Cup-winning campaign – 690 in total, equalling team-mates Nicolas Otamendi and Emiliano Martinez.
7. In Qatar, the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner finished joint-top for assists (three), top for shots on target (13), joint-top for key passes (21 – level with Antoine Griezmann), and top passes into the penalty area (18) and fouls drawn (22) at Qatar 2022.
8. No player in World Cup history has registered as many chances created as Messi. He leads overall (72) and in open play (52) – via OptaAnalyst
9. No player on record (since Opta started recording in 1966) in World Cup history has been involved in more goals than Messi (21 – 13 goals, eight assists).
10. Messi holds the record for the most Man of the Match awards (11) in World Cup history, picking up the award in 42% of his appearances. He achieved the accolade in five of his seven appearances (71%) at Qatar 2022.
11. Only three players in World Cup history have scored more goals than Messi (13) – Miroslav Klose (16), Ronaldo (15), and Gerd Muller (14). He became the top-scoring Argentinian at World Cups in Qatar, surpassing Gabriel Batistuta
12. Only Maradona has registered as many World Cup assists as Messi (eight).
13. Only Kylian Mbappe (eight goals, 2022) and Ronaldo (eight goals, 2002) have scored more goals in a single World Cup final than Messi (seven goals, Qatar 2022) in the last 12 World Cups, going back to 1974.
14. Messi has become the first player to score in the group stage, round 15. quarter-final, semi-final and final. He scored seven goals in seven games, with Poland, the only side he failed to score against.
16. No South American player has scored more goals in major international tournaments than Messi. The Argentinian No.10 has surpassed Ronaldo (25) with 26 goals at the Copa America (13) and World Cup (13).
17. He is the first-ever South American to score in a World Cup and Champions League final.