Lionel Messi has sensationally quit international football after Argentina lost the Copa America final to Chile on penalties.
The superstar, who was also his country’s captain, missed one of the spot-kicks that saw Argentina lose their fourth final in just nine years.
According to the Guardian, he said:
“This is the end for me with the national team, it’s not for me.
“I tried so hard to be [a] champion with Argentina. But it didn’t happen. I couldn’t do it. I think it’s best for everyone, for me and for many people who want it. The choice for me is over, it is a decision. I tried many times [to be a champion] but did not.”
South America is reeling from the news that the world’s finest player has donned the blue and white jersey for the final time, and it has certainly come as quite a shock.
What is most disappointing is that Messi is just 29. He is still at his peak, guiding Barca to another La Liga title last season.
There was no need for him to retire, other than a severe case of sour grapes.
His nemesis, Cristiano Ronaldo, has often been criticised for his reactions to Portugal losing out on the international stage.
Like Messi, he hasn’t had the back-up from his team-mates that he has at club level.
If Ronaldo were to quit while he was still capable of playing in another two, possibly even three, tournaments, he would be labelled the ultimate bottler.
The same has to apply to Messi.
At Barca, the bad times have been few and far between. Having spent his entire senior career at the Nou Camp, he has always appeared reluctant to leave, quite possibly because he will struggle to find another team which has such domestic dominance.
It wasn’t to be for Messi and Argentina. However, he has rarely produced his best for them anyway, and with a young, exciting team containing the likes of Erik Lamela, Argentina may well have a chance at the next World Cup.
Sadly for Messi, he will no longer be a part of that.