Lionel Messi breaks Copa América appearance record with 35

Lionel Messi is the new record-holder for appearances at the Copa América, making his 35th after getting the start for Argentina in their tournament opener against Canada on Thursday.

The Inter Miami CF striker passed Chile‘s Sergio Livingstone (34 caps) with his spot in Lionel Scaloni’s starting XI in Atlanta. Brazil‘s Zizinho (33 caps) and Víctor Agustín Ugarte (30) of Bolívia round out the top four.

The forward debuted in the Conmebol tournament in 2007, starting a match against Venezuela under former Argentina manager Alfio Basile. Messi went on to feature in La Albicelete‘s six matches in 2007, including a 3-0 final loss to Brazil.

Since then, Messi has played in the 2011, ’15, ’16, ’19, ’21 and ’24 editions of Copa América to reach his total of 35 appearances. Argentina won the title three years ago to bring their total number of Copa wins to 15, but it was the first time they had done so during the Messi era.

The legendary forward could also soon break the record for most goals scored in Copa América. He currently stands at 13 in 35 games, and would tie Argentine Norberto Méndez and Zizinho at 17 if he scored four during the U.S.-hosted competition.

A win at the Copa América would make Argentina the first team in South American history to secure three consecutive major tournament titles, having won the 2021 edition and the 2022 World Cup. Spain are the only team to have achieved that feat after winning the European Championship in 2008 and 2012, either side of their 2010 World Cup win.