Quitting international football
Lionel Messi has retired from the Argentina team and will no longer participate in international duty after missing a penalty shootout as Argentina lost fourth major final in nine years.
‘For me, the national team is over,’ said Messi after the defeat by Chile in the Copa America final. ‘I’ve done all I can. It hurts not to be a champion.’
The 29-year-old Messi has won numerous titles with Spanish side Barcelona. Some of the title include eight La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues title. However, his only international title would be the Olympic gold at the 2008 Games.
Messi had lost two Copa America finals on penalties to Chile. Apart from that, he was also in the Argentina team when they were defeated by Germany 1-0 in the 2014 World Cup final. The five times Ballon d’Or winner was also on the losing side against Brazil in the 2007 Copa America final.
Argentina and Messi fans had been pleading Messi for change of heart. “Argentina needs you, Messi” said one of the fans.
Messi who had debuted for the Argentina side since 2005 has played 113 times for his country. “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 is over.” said Messi.
“I think this is best for everyone. First of all for me, 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.”
Messi had put in a great performance in this year’s Copa America. This include a superb free-kick in the semi-final win over hosts the USA.
His goal had also made him his country’s record top scorer with 55 goals in total. He had surpass the 54-goal mark which had set by Argentina legendary striker Gabriel Batistuta.
Sergio Romero, the Argentina and Manchester United goalkeeper said that he really hope Messi would “reflect” on his decision and reconsider.
“I think he spoke while he was heated, because beautiful opportunity escape us,” said Romero. “I can’t imagine a national team without Messi.”
“This is the worst I’ve ever been in” said Sergio Aguero while describing the mood in the Argentina dressing room. He also suggest that other may also follow Messi’s lead to leave the Argentina team.
“Currently, there may be severa players who are also evaluating not continuing with the national team,” said the Manchester City striker while being interview by the South American media.
He added: “This is the worst defeat ever, worse than the two other finals. So the thinking is it might be time to make room for other players.”
The Argentine newspaper La Nacion also think that Javier Mascherano, Gonzalo Higuain and Aguero are set to retire soon. ESPN Deportes had also reported that Lucas Biglia, Ever Banega, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Angel di Maria could also follow Messi’s footstep to leave the national side.
At age 13, Messi left the Argentina side for Barcelona and it has been suggested that there is “less room for forgiveness” for Messi in his native country.
After the defeat by Chile in the Copa America final, there are more room for criticism of Napoli striker Higuain as he had missed the game’s best chance when firing wide in a one-on-one with Chile keeper Claudio Bravo after 20 minutes.
Apart from that, Higuain had also missed a key chance in the World Cup final against the Germany side in Brazil. A missed penalty against the Chile side also contribute to the Argentina’s loss in last year’s Copa final.
The Argentina side had already played six games into their qualification campaign for the 2018 World Cup. So far they are only third in the table and two points behind leaders Uruguay.
Only the top four team would progress to the World Cup finals in Russia while the team finishing in fifth place will have to go through a two-legged play-off against the best team from Oceania.
According to the South American football expert Tim Vickery:
Before the Sunday’s match, the Argentina football legend Diego Maradona had said that the Argentina side should not be bothered to come home if they lose the tournament. Year in, year out, Messi has been more consistent at the highest level than Maradona was.
However, Maradona has the title and he was also the leader of the pack when the Argentina side won the World Cup in 1986. His excellent form in the quarters and the semi-finals against England and Belgium was something special.
After 120 minutes of football match in Sunday’s Copa America final, the game ended 0-0. During the penalty shootout, the Chile side eventually won on penalties with 4-2 aggregate.
On Argentina’s first attempt from the spot, Messi had missed the penalty by ballooning his shot over the bar after Romero had denied Chile’s Arturo Vidal.
Argentina’s loss was also contributed by Lucas Biglia’s missed from the 12 yards. The Chile side finally won the match when Francisco Silva score the decisive penalty in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
The Copa America usually takes place every four years, but this was an extra tournament to celebrate the competition’s centenary.
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