Lionel Messi has announced his retirement from international football following Argentina’s third final loss in as many years. The FC Barcelona superstar announced his decision after his side lost the Copa America Centenario on penalties to Chile with Messi missing his spot kick.
This was Messi’s fourth major final with Argentina but even he could not end the nations trophy drought. The 29-year-old was in floods of tears after Chile sealed the win last night and the decision certainly didn’t come easily for him.
He spoke to Argentinian TV network TyC sports: “For me the national team is over. I’ve done all I can, it hurts not to be a champion,”
“It’s been four finals, it’s not meant for me. I tried. It was the thing I wanted the most, but I couldn’t get it, so I think it’s over.”
“On top of everything, I missed the penalty kick,” Messi added.
“I think this is best for everyone. First of all for me, and then for everyone. I think there’s a lot of people who want this, who obviously are not satisfied, as we are not satisfied reaching a final and not winning it.”
Although regarded as one of the greatest footballers ever, Messi has regularly been criticised by demanding fans for his failure to land a major title with Argentina. His failure to match the achievements in the Argentina jersey of Diego Maradona, who carried the team to victory in the 1986 World Cup, has often been held against him. Maradona himself has often taken potshots at Messi, criticising him on the eve of the tournament for a perceived “lack of personality”. “He’s a really good person, but he has no personality,” Maradona said in Paris recently. “He lacks the character to be a leader.”
Fellow countrymen Sergio Aguero and Javier Mascherano have also decided to leave the national team. Ezequiel Lavezzi,Lucas Biglia and Gonzalo Higuain are all reported to be considering their futures.
Messi retires as Argentina’s all time leading goal scorer breaking the record of Gabriel Batistuta and hangs up his boots with 55 goals in 113 appearances for La Albiceleste.