Lionel Messi has announced his retirement from international duty, after missing in a penalty shootout as Argentina lost the Copa America final to Chile.
After Argentina lost a fourth major final in the last decade, the 29-year-old said: “It’s not meant for me. For me the national team is over. I’ve done all I can, it hurts not to be a champion.”
In an illustrious career with Barcelona, Messi has won a staggering eight La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues, but with Argentina his only major international honour came in 2008 with an Olympic gold.
He was on the losing side against Brazil in the 2007 Copa America final and lost twice to Chile in the same competition on penalties. Argentina were also beaten by Germany in the 2014 World Cup final.
It’s been four finals, I tried. It was the thing I wanted the most, but I couldn’t get it, so I think it’s over. 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. It’s very hard, but the decision is taken. Now I will not try more and there will be no going back.
During his international career he has made 113 appearances since his debut in 2005, scoring 55 goals- including five times at this year’s Copa America to become the country’s record goal scorer.
His fellow countrymen, Sergio Aguero and Javier Mascherano have followed Messi in retiring from international football, with Aguero describing the mood in the Argentina dressing room as ‘the worst I’ve ever been in’.
Yesterday’s match between Argentina and Chile finished 0-0 after 120 minutes, with Chile going on to win 4-2 on penalties.
Messi missed Argentina’s first spot kick and skied it over the bar, after Romero had saved Chile’s Arturo Vidal’s attempt. Lucas Biglia also missed his penalty, with Chilean substitute Francisco Silva scoring the decisive spot-kick.
Time will tell whether Messi will actually stick with his decision, after making it during a time where emotions were running high.