Lionel Messi quits Argentina team after Chile defeat

“I’ve done all I can, it hurts not to be a champion,” says Argentina superstar after Copa America final loss to Chile.

Lionel Messi, the five-time FIFA World Player of the Year, has announced his retirement from international football after Argentina lost the second Copa America title to Chile in two years.

“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 on Sunday after his fourth defeat in a major final with Argentina.

Chile beat Argentina in the final for the second straight year, 4-2 in the penalty shootout following a 0-0 tie that ended an expanded 16-nation edition in the US to mark the championship’s 100th anniversary.

READ MORE: Messi sends Afghan ‘plastic shirt boy’ a signed jersey

Messi and Lucas Biglia missed their shots for Argentina.

It was the third consecutive defeat at a major international tournament for Messi and his teammates after losing out to Germany in the World Cup in 2014, and the two Copa America defeats to Chile in 2015 and 2016.

Messi, winner of four Champions League titles and eight Spanish La Liga crowns with Barcelona, was also a member of Argentina’s Copa America team that lost to Brazil in 2007.

Al Jazeera’s Daniel Schweimler, reporting from the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, after the final, said that “great despondency was descending on Argentina” following the three consecutive final losses.

“There is this great generation of players – including Messi, Angel Di Maria, Sergio Aguero, so many wonderful players – yet they are unable to win a major tournament.

“They are reaching the finals but they just don’t seem to have what it takes to be able to get their hands on those trophies. I think there’s a great deal of soul-searching, a great deal of questioning now about to take place here in Argentina.”

Argentina have not won a major senior title since the 1993 Copa America. 

Chile beat Argentina in the final for the second straight year [Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports]

Chile joy

Messi wept on the pitch of the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey as Chile’s players celebrated their second consecutive win.

“There is no limit to this team,” Chile midfielder Arturo Vidal said. “We will keep going, we will keep fighting.” 

“Argentina have a very good, world-class team, and it is especially beautiful to beat them,” said striker Eduardo Vargas.

“We are a historic group. We have proved it.”

Following an ill-tempered evening that included a first-half sending-off for both teams and eight yellow cards, the game was goalless throughout normal time and 30 minutes of extra time.

In the penalty shootout, Chile’s players aimed better, and goalkeeper Claudio Bravo got to lift the trophy in the presence of FIFA president Gianni Infantino. 

Chilean fans in Vina del Mar celebrate their team defeating Argentina in the Copa America final [Rodrigo Garrido/Reuters]
Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies


More from Sports
Most Read