Barcelona star Leo Messi has announced he is quitting the Argentinean national side after making it to the final of a major tournament for the fourth time and failing to win.
“That’s the end of my career with the national side. It’s not for me. It was what I wanted more than anything, but it wasn’t to be,” said the player, who has just celebrated his 29th birthday. A few minutes earlier, in the final of the Americas Cup against Chile, held in New York, the captain had missed his shot in a penalty shootout that came after a 0-0 match followed by 30 minutes of extra time, handing a 4-2 victory to Chile.
Messi and Argentina lost to Brazil in the 2007 Copa final and to Germany in extra time in the 2014 World Cup final. They lost last year’s Copa final to host Chile on penalty kicks after a 0-0 draw.
We’re all very tired. The most tired is Leo. This is the worst I’ve seen him in the dressing room Argentina striker Kun Agüero
“It’s very sad, and to make matters worse, I missed the penalty. It was very important to put it in the net,” said Messi, adding that his decision to leave was for the best.
Messi, who has scored 55 goals in 113 appearances, said he isn’t the only player who will be standing down from the Argentinean national side. “A lot of others want to do the same, because it’s not good enough to reach the final and then lose, and its not good enough for us. I really tried, nobody wanted Argentina to win, and I’ll now be leaving without achieving that,” he said.
“There are a number of us thinking about whether to continue,” said Kun Agúero, a former Atlético Madrid striker now with Manchester City. “We’re all very tired. Leo is the most tired. This is the worst I’ve seen him in the dressing room,” he added.
Messi was called to testify in a court case in Barcelona brought against him by the Spanish Tax Agency just days before he was due to leave for New York, and missed his side’s opening match against Chile due to a back injury.
English version by Nick Lyne.
Sign up for our newsletter
EL PAÍS English Edition has launched a weekly newsletter. Sign up today to receive a selection of our best stories in your inbox every Saturday morning. For full details about how to subscribe, click here