Qatar 2022 couldn’t have gone better for Lionel Messi. Not only did he win his first FIFA World Cup with Argentina, but he also played a pivotal role in it. Nobody could have imagined it a few years ago, but Messi’s best World Cup came at his 35.
Leo had played in the four previous editions of the tournament, but they were a heartbreaking memory rather than a memorable experience. Messi got little playing time in 2006, failed to score in 2010, lost in the final in 2014, and suffered an early exit in 2018.
The World Cup is no longer a stain in his brilliant career, as Messi added the coveted trophy to his résumé this year. But he also set a number of feats in the process, snatching records from Pele, Diego Maradona, and other legends.
Most goals and assists combined in World Cup history
With his sensational level in Qatar, Messi became the player with most goals and assists combined in World Cup history (21). Pele, who had a hand in 20 goals, previously held the record.
Most games played in World Cup history
By taking Argentina to the grand final, Messi overtook German legend Lothar Matthaus as the player with most games played at a FIFA World Cup (26). The Argentine star never failed to make it out of the group stage. This is how he fared at the tournament:
2006 – Quarterfinals
2010 – Quarterfinals
2014 – Finalist
2018 – Round of 16
2022 – Champion
Most minutes played in World Cup history
Lionel Messi also recorded the most minutes played by a player at a World Cup during his participation at Qatar 2022. With 2314 minutes played, he surpassed Italian icon Paolo Maldini (2216).
Most games as captain in World Cup history
Having worn the captain’s armband since Brazil 2014, Messi went on to play 19 World Cup games as Argentina’s captain, an unprecedented feat in tournament history. Leo surpassed Maradona, who was the leader with 16 games.
Youngest player to participate in five World Cups
Messi also surpassed Gianluigi Buffon as the youngest player to take part at five different World Cups (35). The emblematic Italian goalkeeper held the record at 36.
Most World Cup games with Argentina
Lionel Messi also became the Argentine player with the most games played at a World Cup, as he surpassed Maradona’s 21 appearances.
Most World Cup goals for Argentina
Messi’s fantastic performance at Qatar 2022 also saw him become Argentina’s top scorer at World Cups (13). He entered the tournament with six goals, but eventually surpassed the previous leader Gabriel Batistuta (10).
Most goals to tie or open the score
Messi also put Argentina in front on several occasions, becoming the player with most goals to equalize or take the lead at a World Cup (10). Gerd Muller, Paolo Rossi and Ronaldo Nazario held the record with 8.
Messi also scored the first goal of a World Cup game for the eighth occasion, surpassing Christian Vieri, David Villa and Ronaldo Nazario (6).
Most Man of the Match awards in World Cup history
Messi’s breathtaking performances at Qatar 2022 saw him extend his collection of Man of the Match awards to 11, setting a World Cup record. He was previously tied with Arjen Robben and Cristiano Ronaldo at six.
Messi’s five MOTM awards at Qatar 2022 are also the most won by a player in the same tournament. The record was his and Robben’s four awards in 2010 and 2014, respectively.
First player in World Cup history to score in all knockout rounds
Messi got on the scoresheet in every round of the knockout stages at Qatar 2022, becoming the first player in World Cup history to do so.
First player to win the World Cup Golden Ball on two occasions
Messi’s incredible level at Qatar 2022 was rewarded with a well-deserved Golden Ball award, which he had already won in 2014. No player had received this accolade on multiple occasions before.
First player to provide assists in five different World Cups
Messi’s playmaking abilities saw him become the first player in World Cup history to provide at least one assists in five different editions of the tournament.