East Rutherford - Lionel Messi sensationally announced his retirement from
international football here on Sunday after Argentina crashed to an upset
defeat against Chile in the final of the Copa America.
heartbroken Barcelona superstar was distraught after missing a spot-kick
as Chile snatched victory in a penalty shoot-out - Messi's fourth
straight defeat in a major final while representing Argentina.
"For me the national team is over," the crestfallen 29-year-old told reporters.
"I've done all I can, I've been in four finals and it hurts not to be a champion.
"It's a hard moment for me and the team, and it's difficult to say, but it's over with the Argentina team."
Messi's dramatic announcement followed Argentina's third loss in a major final since 2014.
were beaten 1-0 by Germany in the final of the World Cup in 2014 and
lost on penalties, also to Chile, in the final of the 2015 Copa America.
Messi also tasted defeat with Argentina in the final of the 2007 Copa America.
a glittering career that has seen him be named FIFA World Player of the
Year on no fewer than five occasions, Messi has faced persistent
sniping from critics in Argentina.
Yet he received support on
Sunday from Chile's victorious Argentine coach Juan Antonio Pizzi, who
maintained that Messi deserves to be regarded as the best ever.
"As well as an admiration for Messi, I'm driven very much by his numbers," Pizzi said of Messi's record-breaking career.
know what it means to value certain numbers and Messi's numbers are
unmatched, and I don't think they will ever be matched because it's
impossible for a player to find the things that Messi finds."
while universally regarded as one of the greatest footballers ever, he
has regularly been targeted for his inability to land a major title in
the colors of Argentina.
Messi's failure to match the achievements
of Diego Maradona, who single-handedly carried the team to victory in
the 1986 World Cup, has often been held against him.
Pizzi said comparisons with Maradona were unfair.
generation can't compare him with Maradona, because of what Maradona
did for Argentine soccer," Pizzi said. "But it seems that the best
player in history played in the United States. For me the numbers are
impossible to argue with."
Maradona himself has often taken
potshots at Messi, criticizing him on the eve of the tournament for a
perceived "lack of personality."
"He's a really good person, but he has no personality," Maradona said in Paris shortly before the start of Euro 2016.
"He lacks the character to be a leader."
Messi's bombshell decision comes after a gruelling season which was disrupted by injury last year.
recovered to help Barcelona win the Spanish title once more and was
relishing the prospect of leading Argentina to glory in the Copa America
His commitment to playing for Argentina was reflected
in his decision to fly from Spain to Argentina for a low-key friendly
against Honduras shortly before the tournament, where he suffered a back
He then returned to Spain to give evidence at his trial
for tax fraud before jetting off to the United States to join up with
his Argentina team-mates.
Although he was injured for his team's
opening group game against Chile, he came on as a substitute in a 5-0
hammering of Panama to score a hat-trick in 19 minutes.
equalled Argentina's international goalscoring record of 54, held by
Gabriel Batistuta, in the quarter-finals before setting a new mark with
his 55th international goal in the semi-final win over the United
Factfile on Barcelona and Argentina forward Lionel Messi, who announced his retirement from international football on Sunday:
Name: Lionel Andres Messi
Date of birth: June 24, 1987 - age 29
Place of birth: Rosario, Argentina
Club: Barcelona (ESP/since 2000)
International appearances: 112
International goals: 55
International debut: August 17, 2005, Hungary 1 Argentina 2
Champions League (4): 2005-06, 2008-09, 2010-11, 2014-15
Club World Cup (3): 2009, 2011, 2015
Spanish Championships (8): 2004-05, 2005-06, 2008-09, 2009-10, 2010-11, 2012-13, 2014-15, 2015-16
Spanish Cup (3): 2008-09, 2011-12, 2014-15, 2015-16
Spanish Super Cups (6) 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013
World Cup: Finalist (2010), Quarter-finalist (2006, 2010), 15 matches, 5 goals
Copa America: Finalist (2015, 2007, 2016), Quarter-finalist (2011), 16 matches, 3 goals
Olympic gold medal (1): 2008
Under-20 World Cup (1): 2005
Ballon D'Or (5): 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015
Top scorer in the Spanish league (3): 2009-2010 (34 goals), 2011-2012 (50 goals), 2012-13 (46 goals)
Top scorer in the Champions League (5): 2008-2009 (9 goals), 2009-2010 (8 goals), 2010-2011 (12 goals), 2011-2012 (14 goals), 2014-15 (10 goals)
World Cup Golden Ball (1): 2014
Olympic player of the tournament (1): 2008
Under-20 World Cup player of the tournament (1): 2005
Top scorer at Under-20 World Cup (1): 2005 (6 goals)