‘The national team is over for me,’ Barca superstar says
The Associated Press Posted: Jun 27, 2016 12:55 AM ET
Last Updated: Jun 27, 2016 1:46 AM ET
Lionel Messi said he is retiring from international soccer after Argentina was beaten 4-2 by Chile on penalties in the final of the Copa America on Sunday.
The greatest player of his generation, and one of the best all time, still without a title on Argentina’s national team.
“The national team is over for me,” he told the Argentine network TyC Sports after Chile beat Argentina for the Copa America title Sunday night. “It’s been four finals, it’s not meant for me. I tried. It was the thing I wanted the most, but I couldn’t get it, so I think it’s over.”
Of course, Messi was speaking in the aftermath of the emotional defeat and could change his mind. Argentina’s next competitive match is a World Cup qualifier against Uruguay in September, and the top-ranked Argentines are considered among the early favourites to win the 2018 World Cup in Brazil.
Chile beat Argentina in the final for the second straight year, 4-2 in the shootout following a 0-0 tie that ended an expanded 16-nation edition in the United States to mark the championship’s 100th anniversary.
Messi, five-time FIFA Player of the Year, winner of four Champions League titles and eight Spanish La Liga crowns with Barcelona, was crushed. Much of his nation had counted on him to bring home its first major title since 1993.
He’s also Argentina’s all-time leader with 55 goals in 113 international appearances.
Playing two days after his 29th birthday, Messi lost a final for the third year in a row and the fourth time overall with Argentina. There was also the 2007 Copa final with Brazil, when he was still a wunderkind, and then an extra-time defeat to Germany in the 2014 World Cup.
“Messi’s numbers are unparalleled and I think they’ll remain that way forever, because it’s impossible for a football player to do what Messi has done,” said Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi, who is from Argentina. “My generation can’t compare him to Maradona — that’s for my generation, because of what Maradona did for Argentine soccer. But I think the best player ever played today here in the United States.”