By Joel Ayala
Every four years we get the privilege to watch and experience the excitement of the World Cup. Players dream of competing in this world tournament in the hopes of bringing the World Cup home to their country. For many players, the Qatar 2022 World Cup will be the first time that they will be representing their country on the big stage. However for some footballing legends this will be the last World Cup run of their careers.
One of these soccer legends is Argentina’s Lionel Messi. Lionel Messi is looking to top off a legendary career with one World Cup trophy for his country. Born with a growth hormone disorder, Messi has always been the smallest man on the pitch but has left one of the greatest impacts on the world of soccer. He has seven Ballon D’ors, which before the 2000’s was unheard of for any player. He is the all time top-scorer for Barcelona and Argentina. In his most iconic season, he scored 72 goals for Barcelona in all competitions at the age of 24. Lionel Messi recently played his thousandth game against Australia in round 16 of the 2022 Qatar World Cup. He is one of Argentina’s most decorated players of all time and solidified himself as one of the GOATS.
Another soccer legend who is playing in his last World Cup is Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo received his first of five Ballon D’ors at the age of 23 years old. He has made over 1,100 professional career appearances for club and country. Ronaldo is one of the few players to have scored more than 800 career goals. He is a Real Madrid legend and all-time top goal-scorer. He helped Real Madrid win the champions league 3 times in a row and won the Euro 2016 with Portugal. Before Ronaldo joined the Portuguese team, Portugal had only qualified for three World Cups and three Europeans tournaments. Since Ronaldo started playing for the team, they have qualified for five World Cups and five European tournaments with two major trophies. Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have shared the big stage for over 17 years, both of them a mark on the history of football.
The greatest Croatian player to ever play the game Luka Modric also tops the list of great players in their final World Cup tournaments. At the age of 37, Croatia’s captain is still running the midfield for club and country. He is the only Croatian to ever win the Ballon D’or. He helped his country clinch a spot in the 2018 Russia World Cup final during their historic World Cup runs. He has 687 appearances for club and country, he has provided 75 goals and 121 assists. Soccer is more than the amount of goals and assists you have but the impact that you have on and off the field. Modric’s distribution of the ball and his ability to dribble out of tight spaces to maintain possession for his team is something to admire. Luka Modric is a key player in any team that he plays for.
Lastly we have Mexican goalkeeper and captain Guillermo Ochoa. The Qatar 2022 World Cup will be his fifth World Cup. When players are chosen to represent their country in a World Cup, they give it their all and take pride in their flag. That is exactly what Memo Ochoa does for his country. He is most famously known for his incredible saves during the 2014 Brazil World Cup and the 2018 Russia World Cup. Memo always turns up for his country whenever they need him the most. Fast forwarding to this year’s 2022 Qatar World Cup, Memo came up big for his country when he saved a penalty against Poland’s Robert Lewandoski to help secure a draw. Although Memo stated that he still wants to represent his country in the upcoming World Cup, so this might not be the last we see of him.
Some honorable mentions of soccer players who playing in their last World Cup is Poland’s Robert Lewandoski, French striker Olivier Giroud, Costa Rican keeper Keylor Navas, Germany’s Thomas Mueller, Spanish captain Segio Busquets, Welsh captain Gareth Bale, Brazilian captain Thiago Silva, Uruguay’s Luis Suarez and Edison Cavani, and lastly Belgium’s Eden Hazard.
With the Fifa World Cup Final almost upon us, we should enjoy watching our favorite football players while they are still playing. The joy of watching the two GOATS play will soon come to an end as they reach the end of their careers. These players have left a mark in their countries history and that will never be forgotten. These players are the role models for the future footballers who are dreaming of reaching the professional level. Not just the talent that they display but their work ethic and passion for the game is something to be praised.