Lionel Messi is widely considered the greatest soccer player in the history of the game—and he has the stats and accolades to back it up. But the global icon was missing one important entry on his resume, World Cup champion.
The Argentinian forward filled that void on Sunday in the World Cup final against France. In the 2018 World Cup, Les Bleus knocked out Argentina in the round of 16 on their way to the title. If France won this year, it would have been only the third team, and first since Brazil in 1962, to win back-to-back titles.
Argentina was a slight favorite in the game according to Caesars Sportsbook and FiveThirtyEight’s soccer index.
Messi was in this same position eight years ago, but Argentina fell to Germany in the final. He won the Golden Ball that year, awarded to the best player of the tournament, but was despondent during the post-game trophy presentation, having missed out on the bigger prize. Messi’s Paris Saint-Germain teammate Kylian Mbappé won the Golden Boot this year, after a hat trick in the final gave him eight goals for the tournament. Messi finished second with seven goals, good enough to earn him this year’s Golden Ball, making him the first player to win the award twice.
The 35-year-old Messi confirmed after Argentina’s semifinal win that this would be his last World Cup, although he also said he’d play again for the national team. “There’s a lot of years until the next one, and I don’t think I have it in me and finishing like this is best,” he told the media.
Messi is in his second season with PSG and is rumored to be considering a move to MLS’ Inter Miami, which would be a huge boost for the U.S. league. He has ramped up his activity off the field in recent years, adding to his bank account with a flurry of new endorsements. His latest move is a new investment firm, Play Time Sports-Tech, to fund sports, media and technology companies. The San Francisco-based firm launched in the fall with Silicon Valley veterans Razmig Hovaghimian running the company and Michael Marquez serving as an advisor.
Here are 20 numbers associated with the soccer legend, one for each season of his professional career.
0: Accounts who follow Messi on Twitter—with the caveat that he is a rare global sports superstar not on the platform.
4: Champions League titles won by Barcelona with Messi on its roster.
5: World Cups in which Messi has taken the field; he’s one of six players, including Cristiano Ronaldo, to achieve this mark.
6: World Cup finals in which Argentina has played, tying Italy for the third-most behind Germany (eight) and Brazil (seven). The last was the 2014 loss to Germany.
7: Ballon d’Or awards Messi has won. Ronaldo, with five, is the only other player to win the player-of-the-year award more than three times. Messi finished second in the voting for each of Ronaldo’s wins.
13: Goals scored by Messi in the World Cup. Messi’s World Cup goal total is the most ever by an Argentine player and is tied for fourth most all time with France's Just Fontaine. Germany’s Miroslav Klose leads with 16 between 2002 and 2014.
16: Messi’s age when he made his debut for Barcelona.
23: Mbappé’s current age, and he already has 12 World Cup goals. A France victory would have made him the second youngest two-time winner, after only Pelé. Mbappé passed Messi this season as the world’s highest-paid soccer player.
26: World Cup match appearances by Messi. He tied Germany’s Lothar Matthäus for the most (25) during Argentina’s semifinal win. Messi broke the record Sunday.
129: Champions League goals scored by Messi, ranking second all-time behind Ronaldo (141).
799: Goals scored by Messi for his clubs (701) and the Argentina national team (98).
1986: The year Diego Maradona led Argentina to its last World Cup title. Its other win was in 1978. France has also won twice.
$2.6 million: Total fine for Messi after he was found guilty in 2016 by a Barcelona court for tax fraud from 2007 to 2009. His father was fined an additional $1.9 million.
32 million: Likes on Messi’s Instagram post of him playing chess with Ronaldo in an ad for Louis Vuitton. It’s the fourth-most-liked post in the history of the platform. Ronaldo also posted the image and racked up 42 million likes, second-best ever behind a photo of an egg.
$50 million: Amount that Messi earns a year off the field from his 15-plus sponsors, including Adidas, Budweiser, Mengniu, MasterCard, Ooredoo, PepsiCo, Saudi Arabia Tourism, Socios.com and Sorare.
$122 million: Annual earnings for Messi, which ranked second behind LeBron James ($127 million) in Sportico’s list of the world’s 100 highest-paid athletes.
391 million: Accounts who follow Messi on Instagram. Only Ronaldo has more followers on the platform than Messi, with Kylie Jenner, Selena Gomez and Dwayne Johnson rounding out the top five.
$440 million: Total prize money for the 2022 World Cup awarded to teams. The runner-up of Sunday’s final will receive $30 million, while the champions pocket $42 million.
1.12 billion: People who saw at least some of the 2018 World Cup final, and FIFA estimated that the 2018 final averaged 517 million viewers. Sunday’s final will have a bigger viewing audience than any other broadcast in 2022.
$1.2 billion: Estimated career earnings for Messi from salaries, bonuses, endorsements and royalties.
(This story was updated throughout to reflect goals scored by Messi and Mbappé during the final match.)