Messi and Ronaldo will both be making their 5th World Cup appearance in Qatar and it may probably be the last time soccer fans will see both legends at football's premier competition
Playing at the FIFA World Cup is every footballer’s dream, as not all players enjoy the privilege of featuring on football’s grandest stage.
Football fans also love to see their favourite players at the global mundial. But age will eventually catch up with these players and they will be forced to retire.
Messi and Ronaldo will both be making their 5th FIFA World Cup appearances in Qatar and it may probably be the last time soccer fans will see both legends at football’s premier competition.
As the world is preparing for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, FootballOrbit presents you 10 footballers who could make their final World Cup appearance.
1. Dani Alves (38 years old)
Should Dani Alves be selected in Brazil’s squad for Qatar, he will be making his third appearance at the FIFA World Cup.
The 38-year-old made his World Cup debut in 2010 and was also part of the Brazilian team that was embarrassed at the 2014 semi-final on home soil.
Alves missed the 2018 edition due to injury.
He has won two Copa America titles and an Olympic Gold medal with his country. The upcoming World Cup will be Dani Alves’ last try to lay his hands on the much-coveted trophy as he will be 42 years old by the next World Cup in 2026.
2. Cristiano Ronaldo (37 years old)
Ronaldo made his FIFA World Cup debut in 2006 and helped Portugal reached the semifinals.
He has appeared at every World Cup since then but couldn’t help his country better or even match their semifinal run of 2006.
Ronaldo recently became the all-time leading goalscorer in international football history but will be dreaming of winning the World Cup with the current talented Portuguese team with whom he won the Euros (2016) and UEFA Nations League (2019).
Cristiano Ronaldo will be 41 in 2026.
3. Lionel Messi (34 years old)
Messi has always faced scrutiny on the international stage for his perceived lack of success. He silenced critics with a Copa America title win last year and will seek to add a World Cup win in what will be his 5th appearance at the competition later this year.
He made his World Cup debut in 2006 and scored against Serbia and Montenegro, aged just 18.
Argentina got eliminated at the Round of 16 by Germany and in 2010 the same thing repeated itself as Messi and co. were dumped out by the same team at the same stage.
At the 2014 World Cup, Messi was in inspired form and single-handedly dragged Argentina to the final but once again, they were undone by their World Cup nemesis, Germany (who won 1-0).
Messi’s performances earned him the Golden Ball as the Best Player of the Tournament.
At Russia 2018, Argentina were eliminated in the Round of 16 by eventual champions, France.
Messi has scored in three World Cups so far and amazingly; one as a teenager, the second in his twenties and the last in his thirties.
Lionel Messi will be 38 by 2026.
4. Luis Suarez (35 years old)
Luis Suarez is a controversial player and especially loves making epic headlines on the FIFA World Cup stage.
He made his debut appearance at the World Cup in 2010 and in the quarter-final against Ghana, the score was 1–1 at the end of regulation time and the match went into extra time.
Late in extra time, Ghana sent a free-kick into the box, and Suárez blocked Stephen Appiah’s shot on the goal line. He then blocked Dominic Adiyiah’s goalbound header with his hands, committing a “professional foul” to save what would have been the game winning goal and was sent off.
Fortunately for Uruguay, Asamoah Gyan hit the crossbar from the ensuing penalty kick and Suárez, who had stopped to watch, celebrated the miss before heading down the tunnel.
Uruguay won the match 4–2 by penalty shootout and advanced to the semi-finals.
After the match, Suárez said, “I made the best save of the tournament!!!”
Again, at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, during Uruguay’s final group match against Italy, Uruguay needed a win to advance to the knockout stage while Italy only needed a draw. Around the 79th minute and with the score at 0–0, a very frustrated Suárez clashed with Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini while waiting for a cross and…….bited him!
FIFA Disciplinary Committee banned Suárez for nine(9) international matches with immediate effect, meaning he would take no further part in that World Cup. The ban also ruled him out of 2015 Copa América.
It was the longest such ban in World Cup history, exceeding the eight-match ban handed to Italy’s Mauro Tassotti for breaking the nose of Spain’s Luis Enrique at the 1994 World Cup. He was also banned from taking part in any football-related activity (including entering any stadium) for four months and fined CHF100,000 (£66,000).
Qatar could prove to be Luis Suarez’s last FIFA World Cup appearance and who knows what controversy he has in store for us as a final gift!
5. Edinson Cavani (35 years old)
Cavani made his FIFA World Cup debut in 2010, scoring a goal in the 3rd place match against Germany.
He also appeared at the 2014 and 2018 World Cups and this might be his last appearance.
Cavani — alongside Suarez — helped Uruguay win the Copa America in 2011.
6. Manuel Neuer (36 years old)
Manuel Neuer has been one of the best goalkeepers in the world in the last decade and made a reputation as a “sweeper-keeper” due to his style of play, which has influenced modern goalkeepers.
He made his debut at the 2010 World Cup, where Germany finished 3rd.
Germany won the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and Neuer was awarded the Golden Glove as the Best Goalkeeper of the Tournament.
He captained Germany to the 2018 edition in Russia where they were embarrassingly eliminated at the group stage.
Neuer will be the captain again in Qatar in what will probably be his last World Cup appearance, as he would be 40 when the next tournament comes around in 2026.
7. Karim Benzema (34 years old)
Benzema is currently in the best form of his career at the moment and will love to take that form to Qatar as France aim to defend their world title.
Indiscipline has robbed the world of seeing Benzema at the FIFA World Cup twice.
The first was in 2010 when he was omitted from France’s squad due to a sex scandal involving an underage prostitute.
Then again in 2018, his alleged involvement in the blackmailing of international teammate Mathieu Valbuena with a sex-tape cost him a place in the French squad that eventually won the World Cup.
Benzema’s only World Cup appearance till date was in Brazil (2014) where he scored 3 goals.
8. Sergio Busquets (33 years old)
Busquets played all the matches at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which Spain won.
He also appeared at the 2014 edition in Brazil where Spain were shocking eliminated at the group stage.
His 3rd appearance was in 2018 where Spain suffered yet another embarrassment as they were dumped out at the Round of 16 by Russia.
Busquets has won the FIFA World Cup (2010) and the Euros (2012) with Spain.
9. Robert Lewandowski (34 years old)
Although Lewandowski made his international debut with Poland in 2008, his only appearance at the FIFA World Cup was in 2018 — where Poland finished bottom of their group and were dumped out at the group stage, without Lewandowski scoring a single goal.
The Bayern Munich striker will be looking forward to scoring his first ever FIFA World Cup goal in Qatar. And it might even be his final appearance at the global mundial.
10. Luka Modric (36 years old)
Modric was the MVP at the last World Cup in 2018 as he led underdogs, Croatia, to a stunning runners-up finish.
Modric made his FIFA World Cup debut in 2006. His country failed to qualify for the 2010 edition and got eliminated in the group stage at Brazil 2014.
In 2018, Croatia made a fairy-tale run to the final where they lost to France. Modric was named as the Best Player of the Tournament.
His performances at the World Cup earned him the Ballon d’or in 2018 — making him the first player other than Messi or Ronaldo to win the award in 10 years.
- Thomas Muller (32 years)
- Eden Hazard (31 years)
- Jordi Alba (33 years)
- Joao Moutinho (35 years)
- Thiago Silva (37 years)
- Hugo Lloris (35 years)
- Olivier Giroud (35 years)
- Angel di Maria (34 years)
- Pepe (39 years)
- Mat Hummels (33 years)
- Diego Godin (36 years)