No go­ing back for Messi

Messi re­tires from in­ter­na­tional foot­ball af­ter Copa heart­break

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S peak­ing in the af­ter­math of a dev­as­tat­ing Copa Amer­ica fi­nal de­feat to Chile, an emo­tional Lionel Messi de­clared he would re­tire from in­ter­na­tional foot­ball.

Hav­ing missed from the spot in the shootout as Chile tri­umphed 4-2 on penal­ties, the Barcelona su­per­star shocked ev­ery­one by stat­ing his in­ten­tion to quit the Ar­gen­tine na­tional team.

“The na­tional team is over for me,” Messi told the Ar­gen­tine net­work TyC Sports. “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.”

In 2007 Messi tasted de­feat in the fi­nal of the Copa as Ar­gentina lost 3-0 to Brazil. Then in 2014 there was fur­ther dis­ap­point­ment as Ger­many tri­umphed in ex­tra-time in the World Cup fi­nal, as well as de­feats to Chile two years run­ning in Copa fi­nals.

“On top of every­thing, I missed the penalty kick,” said Messi. “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.

“That’s it, I’ve al­ready tried enough. It pains me more than any­one not be­ing able to be a cham­pion with Ar­gentina, but that’s the way it is. It wasn’t meant to be, and un­for­tu­nately I leave with­out hav­ing achieved it.” Of course, Messi could yet change his mind, hav­ing made the an­nounce­ment in the heat of the mo­ment, just min­utes af­ter the de­feat to Chile. “I think Messi spoke in the heat of the mo­ment be­cause such a great op­por­tu­nity es­caped us,” said Ar­gentina goal­keeper Ser­gio Romero. How­ever, Ser­gio Aguero re­vealed the dev­as­ta­tion amongst the squad and sug­gested that there could be more play­ers giv­ing se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion to their in­ter­na­tional fu­tures. With some re­ports in Ar­gentina sug­gest­ing that Aguero, Javier Mascher­ano and An­gel Di Maria could also re­tire.

“There are sev­eral play­ers who are eval­u­at­ing not con­tin­u­ing with the na­tional team,” said Aguero. “This is the worst locker room I’ve ever been in, worse than the fi­nal in the World Cup and the other Copa Amer­ica.”

Ear­lier in the tour­na­ment Messi had be­come Ar­gentina’s all-time top scorer with 55 goals but has failed to help his coun­try tri­umph in a ma­jor fi­nal.

A fact that has al­ways gone against the striker when com­par­isons with Diego Maradona are made.

Now it seems Ar­gentina will have to cope with­out Messi, and pos­si­bly oth­ers, as they at­tempt to qual­ify for the 2018 World Cup in Rus­sia.

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