27 June 2016
Lionel Messi has retired from international football and will, therefore, not feature on the Argentine side in the 2018 World Cup fiesta in Russia, unless he changes his mind.
Messi was on the Argentinian side that had consistently drubbed Nigeria’s Super Eagles at the FIFA World Cup.
Argentina beat Nigeria in World Cup tournaments in 1994, 2002, 2010 and in 2014 when Messi scored three of the 4-2 goals defeat Nigeria suffered in the hands of the Argentines in Brazil.
Messi lost 2-4 to the Chilean side at the final of the Copa America Centenary played on Sunday in New Jersey, U.S.A. (Monday, 1.05 a.m. Nigerian time).
The Copa America international tournament began in 1916.
The loss to Chile was not why Messi had to call it quits with international derbies since he had announced on Sunday that he was going to quit international tourneys whichever way the match against Chile went.
Messi lost the penalty he took for his side against the Chilean side on Monday. The match had earlier ended goalless at regulation time and even after extra time, leading to the penalty shoot-out.
Monday’s loss to Chile was Argentina’s fourth loss in major final in nine years.
Argentina were beaten 0-1 by Germany in the 2014 World Cup final before two Copa America final defeats by Chile on penalties. Messi was also on the losing side against Brazil in the 2007 Copa America final.
“It’s been four finals, I tried. It was the thing I wanted the most, but I couldn’t get it, so I think it’s over,’’ he said.
“I think this is best for everyone. First of all for me, and then for everyone. I think there’s a lot of people who want this, who obviously are not satisfied, as we are not satisfied reaching a final and not winning it.
“It’s very hard, but the decision is taken. Now I will not try more and there will be no going back,’’ he added.
Messi had scored five times at the tournament, including a superb free-kick in the semi-final against hosts the U.S.A. to become his country’s record scorer with 55 goals.
“It’s not meant for me. For me the national team is over. I’ve done all I can; it hurts not to be a champion,’’ the 29-year-old said after the defeat by Chile.
A legendary Barcelona FC maestro, Messi has won eight La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues.
Argentina and Manchester United goalkeeper Sergio Romero said he hoped Messi would “reflect’’ on his decision and reconsider, adding: “I think he spoke while he was heated, because a beautiful opportunity escaped us. I can’t imagine a national team without Messi.’’
Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero described the mood in the Argentina dressing room as “the worst I’ve ever been in’’.
Messi’s miss was Argentina’s first attempt in the shootout and it ballooned over the bar after Romero had denied Chile’s Arturo Vidal.
Lucas Biglia also missed from 12 yards, with Chilean substitute Francisco Silva scoring the decisive spot-kick in the final in East Rutherford.
The Copa America usually takes place every four years, but this was an extra tournament to celebrate the competition’s centenary.
Messi made his debut for Argentina in 2005, going on to make 113 appearances.