Argentinian ace Lionel Messi shocked world soccer yesterday with his decision to retire from international football after his country lost 4-2 on penalties to Chile in the Copa America final.
It was the fourth final the Barcelona star lost with his national team, and having won the World Player of the Year five times, Messi was one of the sondebokke, missing the opening penalty a goalless draw.
Afterwards he said: “It’s tough, it’s not the time for analysis.
“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.”
Messi has played in three Copa America finals in 2007, 2015 and 2016 and the 2014 World Cup final, and was on the losing side every time.
Argentina failed to score in all four matches.
The decision by the 29-year-old, who surpassed Gabriel Batistuta as his country’s highest goalscorer last week, came as a shock to his teammates, who say they hope his decision is not irrevocable.
Attacker Sergio Aguero, Messi’s best friend on the team, says he has never seen the mood in the dressing room so low while goal- keeper Sergio Romero suggested he might rethink his decision.
Aguero adds: “I think Leo spoke in the heat of the moment because we missed that great chance.”
Messi’s retirement sparked disbelief in his homeland and sports newspaper Ole immediately launched a social media campaign, #NotevayasLeo, or Don’t go Leo, to get him to stay.