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5 players who could retire from international football after the 2022 FIFA World Cup

Argentina v Mexico: Group C - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
Argentina v Mexico: Group C - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

The FIFA World Cup is one of the most prestigious international sports tournaments and players give everything they have to get a chance to feature in it.

As with every sport, footballers also see their quality wane over time as they advance in age. Due to this, players often choose to stop representing their countries before they retire fully. Most players like to do this after a major tournament like the FIFA World Cup, which comes only once every four years.

In this article, we'll be looking at some of the veteran players who may be bidding farewell to their national teams after the 2022 FIFA World Cup. We'll examine their past successes, their current form, and the likelihood of them hanging up their international boots after Qatar.

Without further ado, here is a list of five stars who may end their international careers after the World Cup.


#5 Pepe | Portugal

Should Pepe retire after the 2022 FIFA World Cup, he will do so as a bonafide Portugal legend
Should Pepe retire after the 2022 FIFA World Cup, he will do so as a bonafide Portugal legend

At 39 years of age, veteran defender Pepe is the oldest defender at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The FC Porto man is widely regarded as one of the greatest central defenders of the 21st century due to the combative performances he churns out.

Pepe has played 180 minutes so far at the World Cup in Qatar, lasting 90 minutes against Uruguay and South Korea. The three-time UEFA Champions League winner with Real Madrid has provided the necessary experience and quality for A Seleçao as they pursue glory in Qatar.

Overall, Pepe has made 131 appearances for his country since making his international debut 15 years ago. In those games, he has scored seven goals and provided four assists.

Pepe is the oldest EVER player to represent Portugal at the World Cup. πŸ‘€39 Years275 DaysA veteran at the back. πŸ’ͺ#Portugal https://t.co/BHhqYsyys2

Pepe is playing in his eighth major international tournament for Portugal. His first major tournament was the UEFA Euro 2008, and he helped his country win the Euros in 2016. The experienced defender is expected to retire from international football soon, and may be as early as this year.


#4 Sergio Busquets | Spain

Sergio Busquets is the last player from the dominant 2008-12 Spain squad still in La Roja's squad
Sergio Busquets is the last player from the dominant 2008-12 Spain squad still in La Roja's squad

Spain captain Sergio Busquets is the only remaining member of their golden era still playing for La Roja. The midfielder was responsible for redesigning the defensive midfield role with his technical ability and skillset.

Busquets has featured in all three matches for Luis Enrique's side at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The 34-year-old has made 15 appearances at the Mundial for his country since first appearing in the competition in 2010.

He has made a total of 142 international appearances since his debut in 2009, registering two goals and nine assists.

Busquets is in his seventh major international tournament for Spain. He helped his country win the World Cup in 2010 and the Euros in 2012, and will be gunning to lead them to glory in Qatar this month.

If he manages to do so, the Barcelona stalwart may soon join many of his illustrious peers in taking a back seat from international football.


#3 Manuel Neuer | Germany

Manuel Neuer endured a disappointing 2022 FIFA World Cup campaign with Germany
Manuel Neuer endured a disappointing 2022 FIFA World Cup campaign with Germany

German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has been one of the best and most consistent goalkeepers of the 21st century. The Bayern Munich great holds the record for most appearances by a goalkeeper at the FIFA World Cup.

Neuer was in goal for Die Mannschaft in all three of their group-stage matches as they suffered a second successive first-round elimination. The normally reliable No. 1 himself endured a poor outing, particularly in their final match against Costa Rica.

The veteran goalkeeper has made 19 appearances in the Mundial since first appearing in the tournament in 2010. Overall, he has won 117 caps for his country and has helped them keep 48 cleansheets while conceding 113 goals.

Neuer has played for Germany in seven major tournaments and is expected to retire soon. At 36, the 2014 World Cup winner may soon leave the international scene for Barcelona custodian Marc-Andre ter Stegen to take over.


#2 Thomas Muller | Germany

Thomas Muller has struggled over the past two FIFA World Cups for Germany
Thomas Muller has struggled over the past two FIFA World Cups for Germany

After Germany's exit from the 2022 FIFA World Cup was confirmed, Thomas Muller was seen waving at the fans as if to indicate that he had played his last match. The Bayern Munich star has been one of the most underrated stars of the past decade.

Muller won the Golden Boot at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa aged just 20 as Germany finished third. He has contributed ten goals and six assists in 19 World Cup appearances, winning the tournament once in 2014.

Overall, Muller has made 121 total appearances for Germany since making his international bow, recording an outstanding 44 goals and 40 assists.

The last time we will probably see Thomas Muller at the World Cup. An icon. πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺ https://t.co/CWC5Eqw8ix

Muller has represented Germany in seven major tournaments in his career. This is impressive given that the 33-year-old was left out of the national team between 2019 and 2021 by former manager Joachim Low.

He seems ready to hang up his boots after enjoying an illustrious international career.


#1 Angel Di Maria | Argentina

Angel Di Maria has been one of Argentina's best players over the past decade
Angel Di Maria has been one of Argentina's best players over the past decade

Earlier this year, Angel Di Maria hinted at possibly retiring from international duty at the end of the 2022 FIFA World Cup (via AS). The experienced forward has been one of the best players in the world in the last 15 years.

Di Maria has been at the center of every iconic moment enjoyed by the Argentine national team since making his debut. He scored the winner for the U-23 team as they won the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He also scored the winner for La Albiceleste as they pipped Brazil to Copa America glory last summer.

Overall, Di Maria has made 127 appearances for Argentina, scoring 27 times and providing 26 assists. He has represented his country in nine major tournaments. The Juventus man will be looking to end his career with the national team on a high by helping them win the World Cup.

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Edited by Anantaajith Ra
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