The thought of Lionel Messi, retiring from International football might be one of the most shocking things for football and Messi fans. The fabled world championship status eluded him in 2014 world cup final and again more heartbreak in back to back Copa America final losses to Chile.
It might have been the heat of the devastating moment; the frustration speaking. Three straight years of making international finals, three straight finals losses in extra time or on penalties or it might have been Sunday’s match against Chile.
After losing to Chile on Penalty Kicks (4-2 ) after a 0-0 draw at MetLife Stadium, in the Copa America final for the second year in a row, the Argentinian star football player announced that his career with the national team is over.
“It’s incredible, the fact that we can’t win it,” Lionel Messi told the reporters . “It happened to us again, and by penalty kicks. It’s the third consecutive final. We tried. We tried and it wasn’t for us. It’s difficult at this moment to do any sort of analysis. In the locker room, I thought that the national team is not for me. It’s what I feel right now. It’s a great sadness that it happened to me again, the fact that I missed a penalty kick that was very important. It’s for the good of everybody. It’s not enough to just get to the final and not win.
“I was thinking in the locker room that this is it for me in terms of the national team. It has been four finals [including the 2007 Copa América]. It’s not for me. I tried to find [a title]. It’s what I wanted most. Unfortunately, I didn’t get it, but I think that’s it.”
He led Barcelona to club world cup, La Liga and Copa del Rey titles last season and tailed 41 goals in all competition. In this tournament itself, he has done some incredible things. Against Panama, in the group stage, he came off the bench and turned a narrow 1-0 win into a 5-0 romp, making football look like a child’s play.
Let us not forget that Marcelo Diaz picked up two yellow cards during the finals for stopping Messi in full flight, that tells us that Messi is unstoppable.
He led Argentina to 2005 World Youth Cup by scoring twice in the 2-1 win over Nigeria. He was named the tournament’s best player and won the Golden Boot.
Ahead of the 2008 Summer Olympics, Barcelona legally barred Messi from representing Argentina at the tournament as it coincided with their Champions League qualifying matches. But no one could stop him from leading Argentina to gold in Beijing.
During the first match, he scored the opening goal and assisted another in their 2–1 victory over Ivory Coast. Against the Netherlands, he again scored the first goal and assisted the second strike to help his team to a 2–1 win in extra time. After a 3–0 semi-final victory over Brazil, Messi assisted the only goal in the final as Argentina defeated Nigeria to claim Olympic gold medals. Along with Riquelme, Messi was singled out by FIFA as the stand-out player from the tournament’s best team.
Alejandro Sabella gave then 24-year-old Messi the armband in 2011 and signalled his intent by axing Carlos Tevez to ensure the team was built around its ace.
On the back of a long, arduous season with Barcelona, Messi arrived in the US underdone; travel had caught up with him after suffering a back injury against Honduras in Argentina, while also needing to arrive late due to his tax fraud trial in Spain. He missed the opening game but announced his arrival at the tournament with an astonishing 19-minute hat-trick off the bench against Panama, while USA keeper Brad Guzan was left stranded by a sizzling free-kick in the semi-final.
That goal took him past Gabriel Batistuta as the greatest goal scorer in Argentina’s history, reports Foxsports.
But not all was sunshine and flowers for Argentina’s star player.
His senior international debut did not go as planned. In August 2005 he was sent off for retaliating at an opponent in the match against Hungary who pulled his shirt.
In South Africa and in qualifying for 2010, Argentina with a bunch of supremely talented players and with Maradona encapsulated into coach’s dugout, not long before the tournament – that was a total disaster. Much was made of this being Messi’s forum to really shine but a lacking tactical cohesion was unable to extract the most of not just Messi, but all of their stars.
We all remember 2014 World Cup final, where Mario Gotze stole the moment that many thought would belong to Messi. He suffered the disgrace of being presented with the Golden Ball for the tournament’s best player when he was clearly bitterly disappointed and digesting the missed opportunity.
In 2011 Copa America, with Argentina as hosts, not even making it to the final, won by Uruguay, Messi contributed three assists but the hosts were still not near their best.
Although, 2007 was a little bit different for Messi. Rather than taking all the spotlight he was able to complement the likes of Juan Roman Riquelme. Heavily influential on the road to finals, he was named the tournament’s best young player, but the side succumbed to arch rival Brazil in the final.
Regardless of whether this is a threat or not, Messi certainly has inspired many of us. Not only the fans from all over the world but also his teammates are devasted and will miss him.
“I think that Leo spoke in the heat of the moment because a good opportunity passed us by,” Romero said. “I can’t imagine the national team without Messi.”
Aguero added, referencing Messi’s missed penalty kick in the shootout: “Lamentably, the most f—ed up is Leo, because of the penalty. It’s the worst I’ve seen him in the dressing room.
“We are hurting because of Messi — there’s no explanation for what happened to him. He tried it all to get the championship for us. For us, he’s still the best player in the world.
Argentina manager Gerardo Martino, who had not heard about Messi’s retirement when he spoke to the press after the match, urged his entire squad to continue playing for the Albiceleste despite their frustrations with the AFA.
“My impression is that they don’t have any reason not to continue,” Martino said. “We’re in the middle of a very difficult World Cup qualification, which will continue in September. Besides, they’ve done well. They don’t have too much to scold themselves over.
“Regarding the political situation, there’s not much to say. It’s the same situation that’s been going on for the last six months. The result doesn’t change our view of these past six months or the problems that may have arisen.”
“There is a political matter here that has to do with those in charge of the destiny of Argentine football at the moment and those who aspire to do so,” Martino continued. “None of this has had any impact on us or can be used as an excuse, because we reached the final, and we should’ve won it.
“[Messi] is the way any footballer must be when he gets to the final and then loses. Certainly, to lose again is too painful to assume a posture that’s any different than that, either on the field or in the dressing room.”
One can only hope that this is just a threat and Messi will soon change his mind about retiring. Which player does not have ups and downs in his/her career? Him being upset over his losses are completely understandable and shows his love and passion for his team and football.