FIFA

Who played in most World Cups? Lionel Messi nears record 2022

Lionel Messi nears record: For many players, getting a chance to play in just one World Cup is the ultimate dream. Given that they only come once every four years, this means that a player has to be at the peak of his powers for almost a decade if he is to participate in multiple editions of the tournament.

Yet there are a few who have managed to defy the odds and play in four or more World Cups, including Lionel Messi.

Sporting News looks at the players who have played the most World Cups, and which players are set to be among the few at the 2022 finals in Qatar.

Who played in most World Cups?

Four players have featured in five different World Cup squads, three of whom have played in all five tournaments.

Legendary German midfielder Luther Matthaus played in World Cups from 1982-1998, including winning the 1990 edition.

Mexico’s Rafael Marquez and Antonio Carbajal also played in five consecutive World Cups, although they were several years apart.

Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has also appeared in five tournaments, although he has only played in four of them, going unused in 1998.

Players who have appeared at five World Cups

PlayerCountryIn SquadPlayed inTournaments
Antonio CarbajalMexico551950, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1966
Rafael MarquezMexico552002, 2006, 2010, 2014, 2018
Lothar MatthausGermany551982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998
Gianluigi BuffonItaly541998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014

How many World Cups has Lionel Messi played?

Lionel Messi has played in four World Cups for Argentina, starting in 2006 at the age of 19, where he became the youngest Argentine to play and score in the tournament.

He also led his country to the final of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, where they lost 1-0 in extra time to Germany in heartbreaking fashion. Despite being denied the trophy due to Mario Gotze’s goal, Messi was named the best player of the tournament.

At the 2022 World Cup, Messi will join a small group of players who have played in five World Cups.

Argentina was tipped by many to win the final in Qatar, with many seeing it as Messi’s best and last chance to win football’s ultimate prize.

Lionel Messi World Cup record

EditionGames playedGoals scoredStage eliminated
200631Quarterfinals
201050Quarterfinals
201474Final
201841Round of 16

Argentina records held by Messi

Messi holds both the records for being the highest goalscorer in Argentina’s history as well as the highest goalscorer.

Messi has scored 91 goals in 165 appearances for the Albiceleste, 35 more than second-highest scorer Gabriel Batesuta.

He is also third in Argentina’s all-time World Cup appearances with 19 appearances, although he will also beat that record if he plays in all three of the group-stage games in Qatar. He is behind only Javier Mascherano (20) and Diego Maradona (21).

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