The announcement made by Argentine and Barcelona superstar, Lionel Messi about his retirement from international football has left his country’s football in turmoil.
The 28-year old made the announcement on Sunday following a traumatic penalty shootout defeat to Chile in the Copa America final.
Messi left the field in uncontrollable tears after missing a spot-kick in the shootout which made it his fourth straight defeat in a major final with Argentina.
He told reporters, “For me the national team is over.
“I’ve done all I can, I’ve been in four finals and it hurts not to be a champion.
Also Manchester city forward, Sergio Aguero said, “We were all devastated in the dressing room, particularly Leo, I’d never seen him in such a state.”
“It’s likely that Messi won’t be the only one to go into international retirement, several players are wondering whether to continue. It’s our toughest defeat to take.”
In a bid to get Messi change his mind, social media campaigns were immediately launched in Argentina.
In the 2014 World Cup final, they were beaten 1-0 by Germany and went on to lose on penalties also to Chile, in the 2015 Copa America final.
In the final of the 2007 Copa America, the 5 times world best footballer also tasted defeat with Argentina.
The coach of the victorious Chile national team coach, Juan Antonio Pizzi, maintained that Messi is the best player ever even with his failure to win a silverware with the national team.
He said of Messi’s record breaking career, “As well as an admiration for Messi, I’m driven very much by his numbers.”
“Messi’s numbers are unmatched, and I don’t think they will ever be matched because it’s impossible for a player to find the things that Messi finds.”
The failure of the superstar to match the achievements of Diego Maradona, who single-handedly carried the team to victory in the 1986 World Cup, has often been used against him.
Pizzi continued, “My generation can’t compare him with Maradona, because of what Maradona did for Argentine soccer.”
“But it seems that the best player in history played in the United States. For me the numbers are impossible to argue with.”