Mascherano's 144th appearance sees him overtake Zanetti as Argentina's most-capped player

Sporting News

Javier Mascherano has passed Javier Zanetti to become Argentina’s most-capped player, with a 144th appearance taken in during a World Cup 2018 clash with Iceland.

The 34-year-old made his senior debut back in July 2003 as the Albiceleste faced Uruguay in a friendly encounter.

That proved to be his only outing of that calendar year, but he has been a regular part of the fold since 2004.

A long list of coaches have called upon a man who has been a model of consistency throughout his career, with his versatility making him a useful option to those at the Argentina helm.

Mascherano was on the books at River Plate when making his bow, with further caps picked up during spells at Corinthians, West Ham, Liverpool, Barcelona and Hebei China Fortune.

He won a gold medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, before suffering penalty shoot-out heartache in the final of that year’s Copa America.

A first World Cup was taken in at Germany 2006, before further Copa America and Olympic Games appearances followed.

Diego Maradona then made Mascherano captain in November 2008, with the armband inherited from Zanetti in the build up to the 2010 World Cup.

Having skippered Argentina at that event at the 2011 Copa America on home soil, Lionel Messi took over leadership duties with Mascherano as his deputy.

A 100th cap was earned at the 2014 World Cup, with further final agony suffered on Brazilian soil.

Lionel Messi Javier Mascherano Argentina
Lionel Messi Javier Mascherano Argentina

He matched Zanetti’s haul of 143 caps in a friendly clash with Haiti in May, but has now moved to the top of that list outright.

Of those still playing, Messi is the only man likely to get close to matching or overhauling Mascherano’s remarkable tally.

The Barcelona icon has 125 caps to his name and, at 30 years of age, still has plenty of years left at the top.

Mascherano has already aired his ambition to help a talismanic figure get his hands on the grandest of prizes this summer, with Argentina determined to deliver World Cup glory for their mercurial No. 10.

MORE: Lionel Messi's World Cup Legacy | 'This is Messi's World Cup' - Tevez backing Barcelona star to lead Argentina charge | Forget Messi, Argentina are a complete mess going into World Cup 2018 | Pressure on Messi to win World Cup greater than ever, says Zanetti

“One wishes for this coming World Cup that Leo can be the best version of himself, because the aspirations of the whole squad depend on this version,” Mascherano told Asharq Al-Awsat ahead of an opening Group D clash with Iceland.

“It’s clear Leo conditions our collective performance; I hope as his team‑mates we can meet his standards.”

What to read next