The FIFA world cup held in Qatar in 2022 will go down as one of the best world cups in history since the tournament started. Like the end of any international tournament like the EURO, Copa America, or CAF, many football players often take that tune to announce if they will retire from international football.
Like any football team, some players are getting old within the team, and young players are coming up to take their place. So most players often take this moment to announce their retirement and give young players a chance to mark their own football era. It has happened in the past, just like in the case of Giorgio Chiellini, 38, who retired from international football after they suffered a shock defeat at the Finalissima.
With the end of one of the best world cups in history, many footballers might not stay to play the next world cup that will be coming up in 2026. In this article, you will learn about the footballers that have retired from international football or may not play in the 2026 FIFA world cup.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the greatest footballers of all time, but he suffered an embarrassing defeat at the Qatar World Cup 2022 after Portugal lost to Morocco. Popularly known by his nickname CR7, Cristiano Ronaldo might not be around to play the next world cup hosted in 2026.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal had started well in the tournament and even recorded one of the highest wins at the World Cup. Portugal trashed Switzerland 6 goals to 1 to record this major win.
After crashing out of the world cup badly, many had expected the veteran striker to announce his retirement immediately. But it seems like he might be waiting to play the EURO 2024. However, his chances of playing in the next world cup are slim as he will be 42 years old when the next world cup comes.
2. Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi cemented his place as the current greatest player of all time after taking Argentina to win the world cup trophy. The FIFA world cup is the biggest tournament in football, and this was the only silverware missing from the Argentine talisman trophy cabinet.
During the tournament, Messi produced moments of magic that kept his team until the end. After beating France 4-2 on penalties, Lionel Messi’s Argentina was crowned champions.
During the world cup celebrations, Messi announced in an after-match interview that he won’t retire from international football yet. At 35 years, Messi has a chance of playing at the next world cup in 2026 as he will be 39; but this chance is very slim.
3. Sergio Busquets
Sergio Busquets is one of the best defensive midfielders in football history. Before his retirement, he was one of the captains of the Spain national team and is still a captain at Barcelona.
Playing for Spain, Sergio Busquets has had a wonderful experience with the Spain national team. He was among the squad that contributed immensely to Spain winning their first world cup trophy in 2010.
However, after Spain had a bad world cup experience in Qatar 2022, the midfielder announced his retirement. After 143 caps, Sergio Busquets has a good career with the Spain national team.
4. Giorgio Chiellini
Giorgio Chiellini is one of the best defenders in football history, and he played for Italy’s national football team before his retirement. He was one of the most respected and capped center-backs Italy had ever produced.
Giorgio Chiellini played for Juventus before he sealed a move away from the Italian club. He joined the MLS side Los Angeles FC and has had a good season with them.
Giorgio Chiellini, about 38 years old, announced his retirement from international football after his country was beaten at the Finalissima. Unfortunately, Italy didn’t qualify for the 2022 world cup and will have to wait until 2026.
5. Eden Hazard
Eden Hazard is one of the footballers that made the most surprising announcement after the Qatar World Cup 2022 ended. Playing for the prestigious Real Madrid, Eden Hazard, before his retirement, was one of the most important players of the Belgium national football team.
Belgium had a very bad outing at the 2022 edition of the FIFA world cup. They didn’t make it past the knockout stages after their team showed a chaotic display at the World Cup.
Immediately after they got eliminated from the tournament, Eden Hazard, in an Instagram post, announced that he would be retiring from the national football team. The most surprising thing here was that Eden Hazard was only 31 years old when he made this decision.
Pepe was one of the best defenders in football history, and he is still dropping several masterclasses, even at the age of 38. Pepe played for Real Madrid before he left the club to play in a less-known league.
He still featured at the Qatar World Cup 2022 for the Portugal national football team. Portugal had a bad experience at the World Cup after Morocco ended their dream during the tournament’s quarterfinals.
At 38 years old, Pepe won’t be available for the next world cup in 2026 as Portugal will be looking to rebuild their team after the disaster.
7. Sergio Ramos
Sergio Ramos has been having a bad time since 2020 after he was left out of the Spain national team for the EURO. Sergio Ramos is one of the best defenders in football history, and he currently plays for PSG.
The former coach of the national football team, Luis Enrique, omitted him from his squad in the EURO 2020. The same thing happened at the World Cup 2022, although the defender has had his fair share of injuries.
At the age of 36 and having over 100 caps for his national team, Sergio Ramos has a lesser chance of being included in the World Cup squad for 2026. With a new Spanish coach, he might likely feature at the EURO 2024.
8. Luka Modric
Despite his age, Luka Modric is about 37 years old and still playing at a world-class level. The wonderful midfielder is currently playing for Real Madrid, and he has been winning many trophies with the football club.
His country Croatia had a wonderful time at World Cup 2022, although Argentina eliminated them in the semifinals. They went on to win the third-place match at the expense of Morocco.
After their good run at the World Cup, Luka Modric has not announced his retirement from international football. While he still can play in the EURO 2024, there’s a slim chance of playing another world cup.
9. Thiago Silva
Thiago Silva is a defender that plays for Brazil’s national football team. He also plays for the Chelsea football club in the Premier league.
Despite the injury problems he’s been having recently at Chelsea, he managed to make it to the world cup. However, Brazil did not have a good run at the World Cup despite the expectations of its fans.
Brazil got knocked out of the tournament in the quarterfinals by Croatia. Thiago Silva has not made it clear whether he is retiring, but he won’t keep up for more than two years as he is more than 38 years old.
10. Guillermo Ochoa
Guillermo Ochoa is the legendary goalkeeper of the Mexico football team and was part of those who represented the country in the world cup.
At 38 years old, Guillermo Ochoa played his 4th World Cup, the one hosted in Qatar in 2022. Guillermo Ochoa made a name for himself after his performance at the World Cup hosted in Brazil in 2014.
After Argentina contributed to sending Morocco out of the world cup, this will surely be the last time Guillermo Ochoa will play at the World Cup. With many old players on the Mexico football team, it might be time for the legendary goalkeeper to step aside for growing talents.