Argentine soccer star Lionel Messi announced his shocking retirement from international football following a defeat against Chile in the Copa America Final. Just like last year, Argentina lost to Chile one more time in the Copa America finals in a penalty shootout. Messi could not contribute in the regular time and could not convert his tie-break shot as well. It must have been heartbreaking for Messi to have lost 4 major finals since 2007. Argentina has lost in the finals of Copa America 3 times since 2007 and in the final of Fifa World Cup in 2014.
The five time Ballon d’Or winner said, “For me the national team is over. 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 is still regarded as the best in world football today but he has attracted considerable critique from Argentine fans and experts due to not winning any trophy for his country. His most persuasive critic, Diego Maradona who led Argentina to a World Cup win in 1986, had said before the tournament that Messi lacks the character or personality to lead the team. Maradona also said, “Win or don’t come back” before the final.
Apart from the poor show in the finals, the 29 year old was in stunning form during this years Copa America starting the tournament with a hattrick. He has played a total 113 matches for his country and scored 55 goals. In this year’s Copa America, he broke the record most number goals scored for Argentina by surpassing Gabriel Batistuta’s 54 goals from 78 matches. After the final, Chile’s Argentine coach Juan Antonio Pizzi said, “I know what it means to value certain numbers and Messi’s numbers are unmatched, and I don’t think they will ever be matched because it’s impossible for a player to find the things that Messi finds.”