How many games has messi played ? When the Argentina legend took the field against Australia in the Round of 16 of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, he achieved a remarkable feat.
Argentina won the match thanks in part to a goal by Messi, who opened the scoring — although it was far from an easy match for the Albiceleste who hung on for the 2-1 win.
Messi joined a select group of elite players in history in that game, with 1,000 official matches played in their professional career.
And by being named in the side for the final of Qatar 2022 against France, the iconic Albiceleste No. 10 chalked up yet another record, as the player to have appeared in most World Cup matches ever.
Most games played in history
Brazilian goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni holds the record for most official matches played against to International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS), which tracks records and milestone statistics in the sport.
The Sao Paulo legend, who also happens to be the goalkeeper with the most goals to his name, reached 1,214 matches played between Sao Paulo (1990-2015) and the Brazil national team.
Another goalkeeper, Englishman Peter Shilton (below) proclaimed himself as the player with most matches in history although the IFFHS only credits him with 1,206 matches, good for second on the all-time list. Shilton played for England as well as eight English clubs between 1966-1997 before retiring at 47.
Among outfield players, Ronaldo has the most official matches with 1,145 matches since he debuted as a professional at the end of 2002.
Other legends like Roberto Carlos, Gianluigi Buffon, Iker Casillas, Raul, Paolo Maldini, Ryan Giggs, and Frank Lampard have between 1,000-1,100 matches played.
Which Argentine player has played the most matches?
Javier ‘El Pupi’ Zanetti is the Argentine player with the most official matches played in football history. The Inter Milan legend played 858 games with the Italian team, 143 with the Argentina national team, 66 with Banfield in Argentina and 33 with Talleres de Remedios de Escalada.
In total Zanetti reached a total of 1,100 official matches between 1992 and 2014 when he retired at age 40.
Ronaldo tops international caps list
The list is endless and now we have a new context in which to measure them against each other. Ronaldo, now 38, became the most capped player in the history of men’s international soccer during the 2022 World Cup in December, overtaking Kuwait’s 196-time capped Bader Al-Mutawa, who himself had only broken the previous record last June.
Former Real Madrid teammate Sergio Ramos and Mexican duo Andrés Guardado and Claudio Suárez also make the men’s top 10. And just one spot and one cap behind 10th-placed Gianluigi Buffon of Italy comes Messi.
Messi and Argentina: from trouble to triumph
The Barcelona legend’s international career will now always be remembered for leading his team to World Cup glory in Qatar. However, Messi had to go through some tough times to get there. After making his senior debut for Argentina at the age of 18 in 2005, the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner was part of teams that lost in Copa América finals in 2007, 2015 and 2016, with a 2014 World Cup final defeat to Germany thrown in there too for good measure.
That 2016 loss, the second year in a row in which La Albiceleste lost to Chile in a penalty shootout, prompted Messi to retire from international soccer after missing from the spot. The very same summer that Ronaldo won the European Championship with Portugal (albeit having gone off injured early on in the final).
But it took Messi all of week to talk about reversing his decision and going back to the grind, which paid off handsomely with his first Copa América title in 2021 and, of course, the World Cup the following year.
How many international games has Messi played? How many goals has he scored?
All in all, the departing Paris Saint-Germain playmaker has played 175 matches for Argentina, scoring 103 goals (his average of 0.59 goals per game is very marginally inferior to Ronaldo’s 0.61 for Portugal, in case you’re wondering…). Messi has played 24 games (and scored 19 goals) fewer at international level but is two years and four months younger.
Can Messi reach 200 international caps for Argentina?
What are the chances of him becoming the second player to reach 200 international caps, then? Although he has all but ruled out the possibility of playing in the 2026 World Cup, during which he would turn 39, the tournament in the United States, Mexico and Canada is still three years away.
Messi has played 25 games for his country since 10 July 2021, the date of Argentina’s Copa América final win over Brazil and 28 matches in the last 24 months. CONMEBOL World Cup qualification gets underway in September, with the teams involved due to play 18 fixtures until September 2025.
And Messi has already spoken about his desire to take part in an expanded Copa América in the United States 2024, for which he’ll be hoping to be relatively fresh after his first 12 months in Miami. That would be a minimum of three games and a likely maximum of six, while you can also throw the odd friendly in here and there.
Will Messi make it to 200 and join Ronaldo in the club? It’s going to be tight but after 15 years of to-ing and fro-ing between two of the greatest in history, it is surely the only fitting ending.
Lionel Messi’s first team: Grandoli
Born in the city of Rosario, in Argentina’s Santa Fe province, Lionel Messi was introduced to football at an early age and used to play with his elder brothers and cousins growing up.
Lionel Messi joined his first club Grandoli, a local neighbourhood establishment near his house in Rosario, when he was five years old. Interestingly, Leo’s doting grandmother, Celia Olivera Cuccittini, had a big role to play behind the move.
“One of my brothers or cousins was playing and we used to go there (to the Grandoli club) every day. The ‘86 team’, a team one year older than me, was playing and they needed a player — so my grandmother told the coach ‘put him [Leo] in the team’,” Lionel Messi reminisced during an interview.
The coach, however, was concerned with Lionel Messi’s small physique at the time and was afraid that he might get hurt playing against boys one year senior to him.
But Leo’s grandmother was a persistent woman and eventually got her way.
“Apparently when I went in, I did some things. My grandmother came back and told him [the coach], ‘Buy him football boots, I’ll bring him to training next week’ – and that’s when I started. It was an amazing time,” Lionel Messi recalled.
Lionel Messi’s second club: Newell’s Old Boys
Lionel Messi spent four years developing at Grandoli before joining the youth setup of Newell’s Old Boys, one of Rosario’s biggest clubs which plays in the Argentine Primera Division.
While the circumstances of Messi’s departure from Grandoli were never documented, an Al Jazeera report later reported that Messi’s family fell out with the club officials. However, the move to Newell’s Old Boys made sense as it was a professional club and offered better infrastructure and opportunities.
Besides, Lionel Messi’s family supported Newell’s Old Boys, or the Nuls, and reportedly the football legend’s uncles and aunts gifted him a red and black jersey of the club on his first birthday. Both of Messi’s elder brothers had played youth-team football for the Nuls.
Soon after Lionel Messi joined the Nuls and was inducted into its youth setup, the young Lionel Messi became the talisman for the club’s batch of ‘87, meant for boys who were born in 1987.
The team, which became famous as the La Maquina del ’87 or The Machine of ’87, would go on to dominate what was called ‘baby football’ in Argentina – seven-a-side games children under 11 play in the country. La Maquina del ’87 remained unbeaten for three years.
Incidentally, Diego Maradona played for Newell’s Old Boys briefly in the 1993-94 season. The club claims that during the half-time of Maradona’s debut match for the Nuls, a six-year Lionel Messi performed tricks on the football ground.
During his time at Newell’s Old Boys, Lionel Messi was diagnosed with Growth Hormone Deficiency (GHD), a condition caused due to the body producing insufficient amounts of growth hormone, leading to impaired growth and development.
A rare disorder which affects only one in 10,000 children, treatment for GHD was expensive – way beyond what Messi’s family could afford. Despite his promise on the football field, Old Boys also shied away from the expenses.
It is rumoured that River Plate, Argentina’s biggest and most famous football club, was interested in signing Lionel Messi at the time but backed out because of the high expenses required to treat GHD.
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