Indian sports personalities on Monday expressed their shock and surprise over Argentina talisman Lionel Messi quitting international football after their Copa America loss to Chile.
Messi’s Argentina lost 2-4 on penalties against the defending champions at the MetLife stadium here on Sunday.
The 29-year-old Barcelona star blasted his penalty kick off target during the shoot-out and could not hold back his tears after the heart-breaking loss.
He later told reporters he was done playing for the country.
“Messi: you are a champion. You can’t give up so easily. We can’t see you retire so early. Hope you would take time to rethink,” former India football captain Bhaichung Bhutia posted on the social networking site Twitter.
He later said that Diego Maradona should persuade Messi to make a comeback.
Indian cricketer Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina too wrote about the Barcelona forward’s decision to quit the game.
“Congratulations!! You have been an inspiration to an entire generation #Messi,” Dhawan said.
Raina wrote: “Sad day for football lovers We Will Miss You Messi #JersyNo10 #Messi #HeartOftheGame”
Indian football great P.K Banerjee told a channel, “It is a loss for world football. You could see he was in so much pain after the loss. Maybe it is the reason why he decided to quit.”
Indian midfielder Mehtab Hossain said, ”Even the greatest have missed penalties. Roberto Baggio, Romario, they all have. He should not break down like this.”
Former India cricket captain and Indian Super League (ISL) franchise Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) co-owner Sourav Ganguly said he is hopeful that Messi will reconsider his decision.
“I am surprised with his decision. I think the AFA is going to discuss it with him. Hopefully he will play in the 2018 World Cup,” Ganguly said.