– Lionel Messi sensationally announced his retirement from international football after Argentina crashed to an upset defeat against Chile in the final of the Copa America, AFP said.
The heartbroken Barcelona superstar was distraught on Sunday, June 26 after missing a spot-kick as Chile snatched victory in a penalty shoot-out — Messi’s fourth straight defeat in a major final while representing Argentina.
“For me the national team is over,” the crestfallen 29-year-old told reporters.
“I’ve done all I can, I’ve been in four finals and it hurts not to be a champion.
“It’s a hard moment for me and the team, and it’s difficult to say, but it’s over with the Argentina team.”
Messi’s dramatic announcement followed Argentina’s third loss in a major final since 2014, AFP says.
They were beaten 1-0 by Germany in the final of the World Cup in 2014 and lost on penalties, also to Chile, in the final of the 2015 Copa America.
Messi also tasted defeat with Argentina in the final of the 2007 Copa America.
Despite a glittering career that has seen him be named FIFA World Player of the Year on no fewer than five occasions, Messi has often faced baffling criticism from Argentina fans.
Although universally regarded as one of the greatest footballers ever, he has regularly been criticized for his failure to land a major title in the colors of Argentina.
Messi’s failure to match the achievements in the Argentina jersey of Diego Maradona, who single-handedly carried the team to victory in the 1986 World Cup, has often been held against him.