Players give everything they have to get a chance to feature in the FIFA World Cup, one of the most prestigious international sports tournaments.
With age, footballers’ quality wanes as well, as with every sport. Thus, players often retire before fully retiring from international competition. The majority of players prefer to do this after major tournaments, such as the FIFA World Cup, which only happens every four years.
As we look ahead to the 2022 FIFA World Cup, let’s take a look at some of the veteran players who may be bidding farewell to their national teams. In this article, we will examine their past success, their current form, and whether or not they will hang up their international boots after Qatar.
The following five stars may end their international careers after the World Cup without further ado
#5 Pepe | Portugal
As the oldest defender at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, 39-year-old Pepe comes from a defender family with a lot of experience. Because of his combative performances, FC Porto’s man is widely regarded as one of the best central defenders of the 21st century.
During the World Cup in Qatar, Pepe has played 180 minutes, lasting 90 minutes each against Uruguay and South Korea. As A Seleçao pursues glory in Qatar, the three-time UEFA Champions League winner has provided the necessary experience and quality.
Since making his international debut 15 years ago, Pepe has played 131 games for his country. Seven of those goals and four assists have been scored by him.
Currently, Pepe is representing Portugal at his eighth major international tournament. UEFA Euro 2008 was his first major tournament, and he helped his country win the Euros in 2016. In the near future, the experienced defender may retire from international football.
#4 Sergio Busquets | Spain
The only member of Spain’s golden era still playing for La Roja is captain Sergio Busquets. With his technical ability and skillset, the midfielder redesigned the defensive midfield role.
Luis Enrique’s side has played Busquets in all three matches at the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup. After his first appearance in the Mundial in 2010, the 34-year-old has made 15 appearances for his country.
Over the course of his international career, he has made 142 appearances, scoring two goals and assisting nine others.
This is Busquets’ seventh major international tournament for Spain. This month, he will strive to lead his country to glory in Qatar after helping them win the World Cup in 2010 and the Euros in 2012.
It is very likely that the Barcelona stalwart will soon take a back seat from international football, joining many of his illustrious peers.
#3 Manuel Neuer | Germany
Among the best goalkeepers of the 21st century, Manuel Neuer is one of the most consistent. At the FIFA World Cup, the Bayern Munich great holds the record for most appearances by a goalkeeper.
As Die Mannschaft fell to a second successive first-round elimination, Neuer played all three of their group-stage matches in goal. The normally reliable No. 1 himself had a poor outing, particularly against Costa Rica.
Since his first appearance at the Mundial in 2010, the veteran goalkeeper has made 19 appearances. With 117 caps for his country, he has helped them keep 48 clean sheets while conceding 113 goals.
He has played in seven major tournaments for Germany and is expected to retire in the near future. With 36 years old, he may soon be replaced by Barcelona guard Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
#2 Thomas Muller | Germany
Thomas Muller was seen waving at the fans following Germany’s exit from the 2022 FIFA World Cup, as if he had played his last match. In the past decade, the Bayern Munich star has been one of the most underrated stars.
When Germany finished third at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Muller won the Golden Boot. In 19 World Cup appearances, he has contributed ten goals and six assists, winning the tournament once in 2014.
Since making his international debut, Muller has played 121 times for Germany, scoring 44 goals and assisting 40 times.
In his career, Muller has represented Germany in seven major tournaments. Former manager Joachim Low left the 33-year-old out of the national team between 2019 and 2021.
A career in international football seems to have left him ready to hang up his boots.
#1 Angel Di Maria | Argentina
Angel Di Maria hinted earlier this year that he might retire from international duty after the 2022 FIFA World Cup (via AS). In the last 15 years, the forward has been one of the best in the world.
From the moment he made his debut, Di Maria has been at the center of every iconic moment the Argentine national team has experienced. A gold medal was won by the U-23 team in 2008 when he scored the winner. The Albiceleste also won the Copa America last summer after he scored the winning goal.
A total of 27 goals and 26 assists have been scored by Di Maria in 127 appearances for Argentina. As a member of the national team, he has represented his country at nine major tournaments. By helping the national team win the World Cup, the Juventus man will end his career on a high note.