Enjoy them while you can.

8 modern-day legends playing their last major international tournament this summer

We’re approaching the last eight of both Euro 2024 and the Copa America, and with it what might well be the final international matches of some legendary era-defining footballers.

There are some all-time greats of the game looking to bow out on the international stage with a fairytale ending with powerhouses including Argentina, Germany, France and Portugal.

Here are eight all-time greats we can’t wait to see one last time on the biggest stage of all.

Angel Di Maria

“The Copa America will be the last time I wear the Argentina shirt,” Di Maria announced on Instagram late last year.

“With all the pain in my soul and feeling a lump in my throat I say goodbye to the most beautiful thing that happened to me in my career, wearing it, sweating in it and feeling it with all my pride.”

The 36-year-old has featured in all three of Argentina’s group-stage wins, all with clean sheets, while he assisted Lautaro Martinez in their most recent 2-0 victory Peru.

Ecuador and then Canada or Venezuela stand in Di Maria’s way of making it to a third successive final with the Albiceleste. What a way to go out that would be.

As for his next club move, he’s currently a free agent after departing Benfica for a second time. It’s rumoured that he’ll reunite with Messi at Inter Miami, but not without a pit-stop back to boyhood club Rosario Central first.

Olivier Giroud

“This will be my last competition with Les Bleus. Obviously, I’m going to miss it a lot,” Giroud told L’Equipe last month.

“We need to make way for the youngsters. You also have to be careful not to have one season too many. You have to find the right balance.

“I’ve always said that I was going to stop when my body asked me to. I think I’ve got two good years left. But as far as the French team is concerned, I think that’ll be the end of it.”

It appears only a matter of time before Mbappe takes his record, but for now it appears he’ll wave goodbye – ahead of a move to MLS outfit Los Angeles FC – to the European game as France’s all-time top goalscorer.

Giroud’s honour roll already includes four FA Cups, a Champions League, a Europa League, league titles in France and Italy, as well as the World Cup and Nations League with his country. Can he complete the set with a European Championship?

Toni Kroos

Kroos is not only retiring from international football, having been coaxed back for one last job, but he’s having up his boots for good.

Never before can we remember a player calling time on their career at the very top quite like this. Having already waved goodbye with Real Madrid by lifting the Champions League, he’s demonstrated that he still remains one of the finest midfielders in Europe.

A maximum of three games await. First up Spain. Then either France or Portugal. Then a final in his native East Germany. Finales don’t get much more box office.

READ: 2024 Ballon d’Or power rankings: How Euro 2024 & Copa America are shaping frontrunners’ chances

Luka Modric

Now we’re onto the speculation stage. The above three players that have officially announced their intention to retire from international football, while we can only guess that’ll also be the case for these next five.

Croatia’s all-time greatest player hasn’t said anything to suggest that he’s thinking about the end just yet, having recently signed a one-year extension at Real Madrid.

We made the mistake of thinking that Croatia’s World Cup semi-final defeat to Argentina at the Qatar World Cup was the last we’d see of the mercurial midfielder on the major international stage.

It feels like sacrilege to write him off, but in 2022 we said it’d be his last World Cup and we’re sticking to our guns.

He rolled back the years and produced a wonderful performance against Italy as Croatia were unlucky to exit Euro 2024 at the group stage.

But Carlo Ancelotti finally started looking to a future beyond Modric last term, starting him in just half of Real Madrid’s La Liga matches and even more sparingly in the Champions League.

Modric is eternal. We’d love to see him prove us wrong and keep going forever, but starting in midfield at the age of 40 in the North American World Cup in two seasons’ time feels like one tournament too far.

READ NEXT: 5 big name footballers retiring in 2024: Kroos, Bertrand, Hart…

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Manuel Neuer

This is Neuer’s eighth major tournament with Germany, and he’s recently surpassed Gianluigi Buffon’s record of 17 tournament matches played by a ‘keeper.

Like Giroud, a Euros trophy is the only thing missing from his personal trophy cabinet.

“I don’t want to reveal it now. I will think things over after the tournament,” Neuer told reporters ahead of the tournament when asked whether he’s considering retirement.

Goalkeepers tend to go on a bit longer than outfielders, so you never know – Neuer might stand between the sticks at the age of 40 at the 2026 World Cup.

Cristiano Ronaldo

For the first time we can remember, it sounds as though Ronaldo is accepting that he’s finally coming to an end.

“This will be my last Euro, of course,” he admitted, having missed a penalty – but made amends in the shootout – as Portugal progressed past Slovenia to set up a titanic clash with Kylian Mbappe’s France.

“But I’m not moved by this, I’m moved by enthusiasm.

“I was sorry for the fans. I’ll always give my best for this shirt, whether I miss it or not. And I’ll do this my whole life. You have to take responsibility.”

Admittedly, he hasn’t ruled out the next World Cup. But the fact that he’s now failed to score in his last eight major tournament appearances suggest that the time has probably come to step aside – let alone in another two years, when he’ll be 41.

It looks as though the World Cup will remain the only major honour that exudes him.

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates lifting the FA Cup, European Championships and Champions League trophies, pictured (L-R) with Manchester United, Portugal and Real Madrid

TRY A QUIZ: The Ultimate Cristiano Ronaldo Quiz: 30 tricky questions on the Real Madrid & Man Utd icon

Luis Suarez

With 68 and 58 international goals respectively, Suarez and Edinson Cavani are comfortably ahead of the great Diego Forlan as Uruguay’s two all-time top goalscorers.

Alongside the long-serving coach Oscar Tabarez in the dugout, it became difficult to think of Uruguay without one or both of them leading the line.

With Marcelo Bielsa comes a fresh idea and a look towards a new future. Bielsa’s insistence to look beyond the veteran duo and towards their new generation of goalscorers, like Darwin Nunez, become a hot topic in the Uruguayan media.

Unlike 37-year-old Cavani, who received the last of his 136 caps at the Qatar World Cup and has since decided to officially retire from the international game, Suarez’s patience has been rewarded.

The Inter Miami forward, also 37, appears satisfied to play a supporting role for Nunez and co. at this Copa America and can be seen cheering on from the touchline.

Suarez was an unused substitute in the opening win over Panama but has since made last cameos off the bench in the subsequent group-stage victories over Bolivia and the USA.

He could yet play a vital role as he eyes up a second Copa America with his country, with a deadly Brazil-Colombia-Argentina route likely standing in their way.

Alexis Sanchez

Chile’s all-time top goalscorer and appearance-maker, Sanchez might well be their greatest-ever player, having been at the peak of his powers during their back-to-back Copa America penalty shootout victories over Argentina in 2015 and 2016 – the only major trophies La Roja have ever won.

Unfortunately Chile haven’t had a great deal to shout about since then, having failed to qualify for the last two World Cups as their golden generation have declined together, without a great deal of fresh talent emerging to take their place.

Sanchez’s woes since moving from Arsenal to Manchester United (six and a half years ago, if you want to feel really old) are well-established, but he has enjoyed glimmers of a renaissance with Scudetto victories as a squad player at Inter bookmarking a decent little stint with Marseille.

But there have been signs of life on the international stage, with his time with Chile chugging to an underwhelming ending.

He’s failed to score or assist in his last 13 appearances and may have played his last international tournament as Chile suffered a miserable group stage exit without scoring a single goal.