In the aftermath of Argentina’s defeat in the Copa America final to Chile 4-2 on penalties, a shootout in which he himself missed one, Lionel Messi has announced his retirement from international football. Widely regarded as currently as the best player on the planet and perhaps the greatest player ever, Messi made 113 appearances and scored 55 for his country, being the nation’s highest scoring player. Messi was quoted as saying, “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,” and further added, “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.”
A five-time Ballon D’Or winner and coveted with pretty much every other honor at club level with Barcelona, Argentina fans have often claimed over the years that Messi doesn’t care about the national team as much as he does for Barcelona and wasn’t liked much by his countrymen. Messi had clearly attempted to dispel such notions, single-handedly guiding Argentina to the finals of the FIFA 2014 World Cup and Copa America, although being on the losing side of both. It can be said that Messi was perhaps not able to apply himself fully to the majority of his international career, despite pretty much every manager he played under attempting to build the team around him. Maybe a victim of his own success, Messi was often compared with Diego Maradona, whose individual brilliance led Argentina to win the 1986 World Cup. Much was expected of Messi since he broke into the senior side, perhaps too much as he was expected to carry the side to glory, ending a prolonged trophy drought dating back from 1993. It was not to be, though; except the gold medal won at the 2008 Summer Olympics, Messi wasn’t able to churn out the sort of awe-inspiring heroics he would with Barcelona. He had voiced his disenchantment with the AFA a few days before the final and it seems that the loss was the final straw.
It is rumored that other Argentine stars might be mulling over retiring from international football themselves, with Sergio Aguero being quoted as saying, “There are several players who are evaluating not continuing with the national team.”
Messi might’ve not been able to live up to the lofty expectations set for him by the Argentine faithful but his contribution over the years to the national team’s cause would surely be acknowledged. However, there would be people who’d consider this as Messi just being a sore loser, succumbing to the pressure and criticism rained on him by his countrymen and Maradona himself at times. This isn’t, of course, the end of the Lionel Messi show, though, as we’d get to see him very soon in Barcelona colors combining with Neymar and Suarez to produce the sort of delightful performances which saw them score a Spanish record of 131 goals last season in the La Liga.