Monday, June 27, 2016 7:38 am
“For me the national team is over. I’ve done all I can, it hurts not to be a champion,” the 29-year-old Barcelona superstar told reporters after his fourth defeat in a major final with Argentina.
The final, which was played at Metlife Stadium, Rutherford, New Jersey in the United States, saw Messi missing his own shot in the penalty shootout and the Argentine team crashing out to Chile 2-4.
It’s tough, it’s not the time for analysis,” he said. “In the dressing room 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 champion with Argentina. But it didn’t happen. I couldn’t do it.”
The defeat continued Argentina’s 23-year trophyless run and Messi’s own personal misery now extends to four lost finals with the national side – at the 2014 World Cup against Germany and at three Copa Américas, in 2007, 2015 and now 2016.
Argentina coach Gerardo Martino said: “The burden of the consecutive games [lost] has been accumulating these last two years. He feels like you would expect a player to feel after playing and losing a final.”
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.
In that time he 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.
“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 Juan Antonio Pizzi, the Chile coach 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.”
Immediately after Sunday’s shock announcement, goalkeeper Romero said he hoped Messi would change his mind. “I think Leo spoke in the heat of the moment because we missed that great chance,” said Romero.
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.
* Agency reports and theGuardian.com