Lionel Messi told reporters after Argentina’s Copa America Centenario final loss to Chile on penalty kicks that he has decided to retire from the national team. The superstar, who lost his fourth major tournament final and third in as many years on Sunday night, said that after so many missed chances, he is ready to step away.
“The national team is over for me,” said Messi to TYC Sports. “It’s not for me after four finals. The decision is made, I believe.”
Messi became Argentina’s all-time leading goalscorer during Copa America Centenario, but it was not an easy tournament. In addition to the way it ended, he spoke out about problems with the Argentina federation, although he did not bring that up when he told reporters of his decision to quit international soccer.
It has been a hard few years for Messi with Argentina. While losing in the 2007 Copa America was rough, he was not the centerpiece of the team and megastar that he has become since. By the time he went to the World Cup in 2014, the pressure was on him to deliver for his country and end Argentina’s trophy drought, which went back to 1993. But Argentina fell in the final, losing in extra time to Germany. Last year, La Albiceleste were back in a final, this time Copa America, but they went down to Chile in penalty kicks. On Sunday night, history repeated itself as Chile prevailed on penalty kicks again.
After he missed his penalty in this year’s final, sending it well over the crossbar, he was visibily heartbroken and when Argentina lost, he could be seen crying on the field.
With each loss in a final, the pressure on Messi increased. As the team’s best player and captain, not to mention the talk about his place among the all-time greats, his lack of a major trophy for Argentina was always a topic of discussion. And that discussion rarely went well for Messi.
Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero said that he’s not convinced Messi will actually retire from the national team and his comments were made out of emotion in the moments following the loss. Messi is undoubtedly distraught right now and his mind could change when he has some time to put the heartbreak behind him some, but there is no questioning what he said to reporters. He said he is done.