Argentina forward, Lionel Messi has retired from international football. Messi announced his retirement from international duty after missing in a penalty shootout as Argentina lost a fourth major final in nine years.
The Argentina captain missed his spot-kick in the decisive shootout at Met Life Stadium, which Chile went on to win 4-2 and secure a second Copa crown in two years, and was disconsolate on the pitch after the game.
In the dressing room after the game, the 29-year-old said:
“I thought that this is the end for me with the national team, it’s not for me. That’s the way I feel right now, it’s a huge sadness once again and I missed the penalty that was so important.
“I tried so hard to be [a] champion with Argentina. But it didn’t happen. I couldn’t do it. I think it’s best for everyone, for me and for many people who want it. The choice for me is over, it is a decision. I tried many times [to be a champion] but did not.”
Messi, a five-time Ballon d’Or winner, was representing his country for the 112th time since making his debut in 2005 as an 18-year old. He has scored 55 times, including five this tournament. He surpassed Gabriel Batistuta’s all-time leading mark of 54 for Argentina with a superb free-kick in last week’s semi-final against the US.
With Barcelona, Messi has has scored 453 times in 531 games, including a La Liga record 312 goals, won eight La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues. But his only major international honour is 2008 Olympic gold.
With his decision to quit international football, Messi now stands to miss the 2018 World Cup, with the odds of Argentina breaking their long-standing major trophy drought in Russia just having lengthened significantly.
Argentina are already six games into their qualification campaign for the 2018 World Cup. They are third in the table, two points behind leaders Uruguay. Argentina and Manchester United goalkeeper Sergio Romero said he hoped Messi would “reflect” on his decision and reconsider.