Lionel Messi announced his retirement from international duty after missing in a penalty shootout as Argentina lost a fourth major final in nine years.
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“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,” the 29-year-old said after defeat by Chile at the Copa America.
NOW MESSI CAN FOCUS ONLY ON BARÇA. HE HAS 500+ GOALS AND 261 ASSISTS SO FAR, WILL RETIRE WITH 700-800 GOALS, 400+ ASSISTS AND 50 TROPHIES.
— Messi World (@MessiWorId) June 27, 2016
With Barcelona, Lionel Messi has won eight La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues.
But his only major international honour is 2008 Olympic gold. Argentina were beaten 1-0 in the 2014 World Cup final by Germany before two Copa America final defeats by Chile on penalties. Lionel Messi was also on the losing side against Brazil in the 2007 Copa America 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,” he added.
“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.”
Argentina and Manchester United goalkeeper Sergio Romero said he hoped Messi would “reflect” on his decision and reconsider, adding: “I think he spoke while he was heated, because a beautiful opportunity escaped us. I can’t imagine a national team without Messi.”
Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero described the mood in the Argentina dressing room as “the worst I’ve ever been in”, and was quoted by South American media as saying: “There are several players who are evaluating not continuing with the national team.”
After Sunday’s match finished 0-0 in 120 minutes, Chile won 4-2 on penalties. Messi’s miss was Argentina’s first attempt in the shootout and it ballooned over the bar after Romero had denied Chile‘s Arturo Vidal.
Lucas Biglia also missed from 12 yards, with Chilean substitute Francisco Silva scoring the decisive spot-kick in the final in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Lionel Messi made his debut for Argentina in 2005, going on to make 113 appearances.
In 2014 he was named as the best player at the World Cup, with then-Fifa president Sepp Blatter saying he was “a little bit surprised” thus, Argentina legend Diego Maradona calling the decision “unfair”.
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