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The Last Hurrah: Football Legends in Their Last World Cup

Where will you be when all these legends play their final World Cup?

Lionel Messi #10 - Argentina - World Cup 2022
Messi celebrates his goal
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

We’ve all seen so many great historical players who played in the World Cup — the likes of Pele, Maradona, (the other) Ronaldo, Luis Figo, Zidane, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldinho, Kaka and so many others. Reading those names brought back fond memories right?

This World Cup is definitely different from the rest as this could be the last World Cup for some of football’s greatest legends, including the GOATs.

Portugal v Spain -UEFA Nations league Photography by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Cristiano Ronaldo (age 37)

Ronaldo is the highest goal scoring player for both clubs and country. CR7 made his World Cup debut on June 11th 2006 and scored his first Cup goal against Iran with a penalty kick in Portugal’s second match. He was aged 21 years and 132 days.

  • Appearances : 17
  • Wins : 7
  • Goals : 7
  • Assists : 2
  • Man of the match awards : 6

Best finish: semi-final, 2006

Most people think Ronaldo is the oldest player on the Portuguese roster, but that not true. Pepe is oldest at 39 years, 3 months and 14 days (which leaves hope for this year’s 35-year-olds!).

All eyes will be on the Portuguese star this time because this the one trophy missing from his cabinet. CR7 is coming to this tournament in shockingly poor form, having scored only three goals in his last sixteen appearances for Man United in all competitions, being used six times as a sub, and making headlines with discipline issues. So fingers crossed.


Lionel Messi (age 35)

So much of Argentina's glory and hope is pinned on the shoulders of this man. Now 35, Messi made his World Cup debut in 2006, eight days before his 19th birthday, becoming the youngest player ever to represent Argentina in a World Cup when he came on as a substitute in the 74th minute against Serbia. Within 13 minutes, he had both scored and assisted in the 6-0 victory.

That first goal made Messi the sixth youngest goal-scorer in the history of the FIFA World Cup.

  • Appearances : 19
  • Wins : 13
  • Goals : 6
  • Assists : 5
  • Man of the match awards : 6
  • Best finish : final 2014, 2nd.

Going into this World Cup in scorching form, Messi has 11 goals plus 14 assists in all competitions for PSG this season (as of November 12). If Messi can claim this trophy, the GOAT debate could “finally” be decided!

Robert Lewandowski - Poland center-forward - FIFA World Cup 2022
Robert Lewandowski |
Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Robert Lewandwoski (age 34)

The 34-year-old Lewandoski perhaps never got the credit he deserved, in the shadow cast by Messi and Ronaldo.

Lewandwoski scored 312 goals in 384 appearances in the German Bundesliga before his recent move to Barcelona.

Lewandowski is yet to score in a World Cup (final) tournament despite playing in 2018. Nonetheless, Poland’s goal machine has the most goals for his country with 76 in 134 appearances, including nine in the qualifiers.

Will Lewandoski right this wrong in this World Cup?

Fans bite a cardboard cutout of forward Luis Suarez - Uruguay - FIFA World Cup 2022
Bite him! |
Photo credit should read EITAN ABRAMOVICH/AFP via Getty Images

Luis Suarez (age 35)

Suarez made his international debut against Colombia back in 2007 in a game that was oddly memorable as he was shown a red card by the referee in the 85th minute.

He won the Copa America with Uruguay in 2011 and has scored 68 goals, making him Uruguay's leading scorer.

Suarez was banned for nine international games and did not feature for Uruguay in 2015 after biting Giorgio Chiellini during the finals.

His goal in the 1-0 victory against Saudi Arabia in the 2018 group stage made Suarez the first Uruguayan to score in three World Cup tournaments (a feat matched later by teammate Edinson Cavani)

This will be his 4th World Cup.

Dani Alves - Brazil - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
Dani Alves controls the ball |
Photo by Pedro Vilela/Getty Images

Dani Alves (age 39)

The peerless Brazilian has 124 international caps with the national team, 3rd among an exclusive circle of Brazilians with a century+ of national team appearances. With his first in this tournament, Alves will tie Roberto Carlos for 2nd at 125, behind only the legendary Cafu at 142.

  • Friendlies - 57
  • World Cup qualifiers - 30
  • Copa America - 19
  • World Cup - 9
  • Confederation Cup - 8
  • Kirin Cup - 1

Total - 124

Goals - 8

Alves is also remembered for magnanimity shown to opponent James (Hamess) Rodriguez after a 2-1 quarterfinal win over Columbia. Alves and teammate David Luiz were applauded by the media for the sympathetic action.

One would think, “Why call up a 39-year-old for the World Cup?” One may answer, “Because he has been there and done that, and he can do it again.”

Luca Modric holding the Golden Ball trophy - France vs. Croatia - FIFA World Cup
Luca Modric has been here before |
Photo by Cezaro De Luca/picture alliance via Getty Images

Luca Modric (age 37)

As a substitute only, the Croatian playmaker made two appearances in the 2006 World Cup, in the group stage against Japan and Australia. Croatia changed managers after failing to reach the knockouts in 2006, hiring Slaven Bilic to replace Zlatko Kranjčar. Under Bilic, Modric began to earn recognition at the international level. His first goal for Croatia came in a 2-0 friendly win over world champions Italy on 16th August 2006, less than a month after Bilic took charge.

The 37-year-old is one of those special players who seems to get better with age. Now in his 10th season at Real Mardid, Modric has played a key role in a decade of success for the Spanish giant.

For Croatia he’s just has important, the all-seeing controller in the midfield, the driving force that carried the 2018 team to the final and earned him the Golden Ball trophy as best player of the tournament. Just like the two GOATs, 2022 will be his 5th World Cup.

Adrenaline is high, so energy levels and intense training are building up to the cup .

Which of these players will lay his hands on the tournament trophy?

Moreover, all eyes are on GOATs Messi & Ronaldo. Whom do you think can make it to the finals?

Please log in, take our poll, and leave comments down below!



Which of these legends has the best chance to Win the 2022 World Cup?

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)
    (9 votes)
  • 63%
    Leo Messi (Argentina)
    (43 votes)
  • 2%
    Robert Lewandowski (Poland)
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Luis Suarez (Uruguay)
    (0 votes)
  • 16%
    Dani Alves (Brazil)
    (11 votes)
  • 4%
    Luca Modric (Croatia)
    (3 votes)
68 votes total Vote Now