Messi becomes most capped player in Copa America history

NEW YORK   -    Argentina’s star forward Lionel Messi made history by becoming the most-capped player in Copa America history with his 35th appearance in the tournament’s opening match against Canada. The 36-year-old had previously shared the record with Chilean goalkeeper Sergio Livingstone, who also had 34 caps. Messi initially tied the record during the 2021 Copa America final in Brazil, where Argentina emerged victorious. Messi’s appearances span seven editions of the Copa America, beginning with the 2007 tournament in Venezuela. The eight-time Ballon d’Or winner is poised to break additional records this year; he needs just four goals to tie with compatriot Norberto Méndez and Brazil’s Zizinho as the all-time top scorers of the Copa America, each with 17 goals. Furthermore, should Argentina clinch the title, Messi would become the first captain to win consecutive Copa America tournaments. This year’s Copa America is expected to be Messi’s final appearance in the continental championship as he turns 37 on Monday. Alongside him, winger Ángel Di María, also 36, is nearing the end of his illustrious career, signaling the conclusion of a significant era for Argentine football. Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni has urged fans to focus on enjoying the present rather than worrying about the eventual retirement of these football legends. “It doesn’t make much sense to think about when they’re gone. Let’s enjoy them now, we’ll see what happens later. Messi is fine, he’s happy. I’m with renewed ideas and strength. It’s a nice challenge to defend the title,” Scaloni remarked.