Lionel Messi has announced his retirement from international football, a news that will be a big disappointment to his fans. Messi’s decision comes right after Argentina crashed to an upset defeat against Chile in the final of the Copa America.
The heartbroken Barcelona superstar was distraught after missing a spot-kick as Chile snatched victory in a penalty shoot-out — Messi’s fourth straight defeat in a major final while representing Argentina.
“For me the national team is over,” the crestfallen 29-year-old told reporters. “I’ve done all I can, I’ve been in four finals and it hurts not to be a champion.
“It’s a hard moment for me and the team, and it’s difficult to say, but it’s over with the Argentina team.” Messi’s dramatic announcement followed Argentina’s third loss in a major final since 2014.
> Despite a glittering career that has seen him be named FIFA World Player of the Year on no fewer than five occasions, Messi has often faced baffling criticism from Argentina fans. Although universally regarded as one of the greatest footballers ever, he has regularly been criticised for his failure to land a major title in the colours of Argentina.
> Messi, widely held to be the greatest player of his generation, has won every trophy possible at club level with Barcelona, though his only titles with Argentina were the Under-20 World Cup and the 2008 Olympics. In the summer of 2008 he played at the Beijing Olympics, and came home with a gold medal.
> Messi’s failure to match the achievements in the Argentina jersey of Diego Maradona, who single-handedly carried the team to victory in the 1986 World Cup, has often been held against him. Maradona himself has often taken potshots at Messi, criticizing him on the eve of the tournament for a perceived “lack of personality.”
> Messi’s bombshell decision comes after a gruelling season which was disrupted by injury last year. He recovered to help Barcelona win the Spanish title once more and was relishing the prospect of leading Argentina to glory in the Copa America Centenario.
> His commitment to playing for Argentina was reflected in his decision to fly from Spain to Argentina for a low-key friendly against Honduras shortly before the tournament, where he suffered a back injury.
He then returned to Spain to give evidence at his trial for tax fraud before jetting off to the United States to join up with his Argentina team-mates. Although he was injured for his team’s opening group game against Chile, he came on as a substitute in a 5-0 hammering of Panama to score a hat-trick in 19 minutes.
> He then equalled Argentina’s international goalscoring record of 54, held by Gabriel Batistuta, in the quarter-finals before setting a new mark with his 55th international goal in the semi-final win over the United States.
> Leo Messi’s footballing career started in 1995 at Newell’s Old Boys, where he played until the year 2000. At the age of 13, Lionel Messi crossed the Atlantic to try his luck in Barcelona, and joined the Under 14s.
> He was the league’s top scorer in the 2009-10 season and equalled Ronaldo’s historic total of 34 goals (96-97). He scored the goal against Estudiantes that won Barça their first Club World Cup. The season 2011/12 is when Messi moved past César Rodríguez’s record of 232 official goals to become the Club’s all time top goalscorer.