BY DPA

Former Germany captain Lothar Matthäus has hailed Lionel Messi and is far from disappointed that the Argentine great bettered his World Cup appearance record in the Qatar final en route to winning the trophy for the first time.

Matthäus played 25 World Cup matches highlighted by the 1990 title Germany won against Diego Maradona’s Argentina. Messi moved one ahead of Matthäus with 26 games on Sunday in the dramatic penalty shoot-out triumph over France.

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“What a player! What a superstar! How he led this team to the title at the age of 35 can hardly be put into words,” Matthäus said in praise of Messi in his column for Sky TV.

“If anything was needed to make him immortal to his fans, he has now achieved it. We can be happy and grateful to have experienced him and to continue to admire him.

Matthäus did not want to be drawn into a debate whether Messi was now also the greatest player ever as he said: “Messi is certainly the best of this millennium and one of the greatest athletes we have ever seen.

“The fact that he broke my World Cup appearance record on the side is as much to his credit as anything else.”

Matthäus said Argentina were deserved champions because they were “the best team in this great tournament” and that he was happy for the football-mad country.

Messi has said that his fifth World Cup in Qatar would be his last but Matthäus said he wouldn’t be surprised if Messi featured at the next edition 2026 in the United States, Mexico and Canada.

“I am not so sure that this was his last World Cup,” Matthäus said

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