October 12, 2017 / 11:21 PM / 11 days ago

Mascherano says 2018 World Cup will be his last

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina’s Javier Mascherano will retire from international soccer after next year’s World Cup finals in Russia, the defender said on Thursday.

Soccer Football - 2018 World Cup Qualifiers - Argentina v Venezuela - Monumental stadium, Buenos Aires, Argentina - September 5, 2017. Argentina's Javier Mascherano. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci

“My end point is Russia, there’s nothing after that,” Mascherano told Argentina broadcaster TyC Sports.

Argentina beat Ecuador 3-1 on Tuesday to clinch a place in Russia in a must win match for the underperforming side.

The two-times champion reached the final in Brazil three years ago, losing to Germany in extra-time, while they also lost the finals of the 2015 and 2016 Copas America.

However they struggled in the qualifiers and needed a hat-trick from Lionel Messi to get them to Russia.

The 33-year old Barcelona defender, who sometimes plays in midfield, said the opportunity to win a major title for his country was one of his last remaining playing ambitions.

“I don’t have that many things in my life I still want to do,” he said. “Playing in a World Cup and trying to get back to the final is one of them.”

Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Greg Stutchbury

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