Six set to have World Cup farewell as De Bruyne makes sad admission

England team head for World Cup in Qatar on plane called ‘Rain Bow’

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The World Cup is often the pinnacle of a player’s career, while some are invovled in multiple versions of the event. However, this year’s tournament in Qatar could be the last for some of the world’s best players as they reach their twilight years. Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne has already admitted he may not play in the competition again after this year’s tournament and he will not be alone. 

Here, Express Sport looks at six other stars who look destined to perform on the biggest stage for the final time given their advancing years. 

Lionel Messi 

The World Cup in Qatar looks set to be the last for the football superstar after he celebrated his 35th birthday in June. He is yet to get his hands on the trophy, but is one of the favourites to this time around with some refusing to consider him as the greatest of all-time until he wins the competition. 

Cristiano Ronaldo

Messi’s long-term rival Ronaldo is another who is expected to bow out in the Middle East at the age of 37. Much of the of the week leading up to the tournament has been dominated by his tell-all interview with Piers Morgan were he slammed the current state of Manchester United. However, you can expect him to be fired up by the time Portugal get underway against Ghana as he looks to win the trophy for the first time and steal GOAT status away from Messi.

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Luka Modric 

Modric won the Ballon d’Or for his efforts in captaining Croatia to the final in 2018 but is unlikely to be seen in the competition again given his advancing years. The Real Madrid star remains one of the best players in world football and still controls the midfield for the La Liga giants but will be 40 when the 2026 edition comes around and is highly unlikely to play any role. 

Dani Alves 

In many ways, it is a miracle that Alves will take part in the tournament this year having reached the age of 39 and missed the chance of competing in 2018 after picking up a knee injury. He will be determined to end on a high and will be a valuable presence around the squad this year but seems a safe bet to be uninvolved in 2026. 

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Olivier Giroud 

An underrated figure in France’s success in 2018, Giroud is likely to make his final appearances for his country at this year’s tournament. The former Arsenal and Chelsea has recently turned 36 and with all the young attacking coming through for Didier Deschamps he should be replaced as Les Blues look to the future. 

Guillermo Ochoa 

While the Mexican goalkeeper has not had the same career as some of the other names on the list, he has always saved his best performances for the World Cup and has become something of a cult hero as a result. He will once again represent his nation in Qatar but at the age of 37 it seems unlikely that he will do so again even if keepers can often enjoy longer careers than those outfield.

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