Lionel Messi signed off for 2022 by hailing the year when he won the World Cup as one he “will never be able to forget”.
The Argentina captain is due back at Paris Saint-Germain at the start of the coming week after being granted extended leave following his Qatar 2022 heroics.
His seven goals and three assists on Argentina’s route to glory earned Messi the Golden Ball award, and at the age of 35 he finally got to lift the World Cup trophy, his career’s crowning moment.
Messi posted to Instagram a series of pictures of himself with wife Antonela and their young family, marking the end of a transformative 12 months.
He wrote: “A year ends that I will never be able to forget. The dream that I always pursued finally came true.
“But that wouldn’t be worth anything either if it weren’t for the fact that I get to share it with a wonderful family, the best one can have, and some friends who always support me and didn’t let me stay on the floor every time I fell.”
20 – Lionel Messi has delivered 20 assists with Paris in Ligue 1 in 2022, the highest tally within the Top 5 European leagues over the calendar year. Lynx. pic.twitter.com/knFILB24Zz
— OptaJean (@OptaJean) December 31, 2022
Messi’s magical moment will not have been met with great reverence in Paris, given it was France that Argentina beat on penalties in the final after a remarkable 3-3 draw.
Addressing supporters, Messi made a point of thanking those from Barcelona as well as Paris.
He scored a staggering 672 goals during a Barcelona career that ended with a shock move to PSG in August 2021.
“I also want to have a very special memory for all the people who follow me and support me,” Messi wrote. “It is incredible to be able to share this path with all of you.
“It would be impossible to get to where I got without so much encouragement that I received from all the people of my country as well as from Paris, Barcelona and many other cities and countries from which I have been receiving affection.
“I hope that this year has also been wonderful for everyone and I wish you all the health and strength to continue being happy in 2023.”
Messi has reportedly agreed in principle to extend his PSG contract, which expires at the end of this season, and putting the finishing touches to a deal will be a priority for the Ligue 1 club in the coming days and weeks.
He will miss Sunday’s game against Lens, who sit second in the French top flight, seven points behind PSG after 16 rounds of games.