It was a wild swing and the ball went soaring high above the crossbar into the crowds attending the largest ever football match at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. And with it, his dreams to win a major trophy for Argentina and to emulate his boyhood hero Diego Armando Maradona were dashed. It was the first penalty shootout miss in Lionel Messi’s Argentina career.
Immediately after, a distraught Messi announced his retirement from international football to a south American TV station.
“The national team is over for me. It’s my decision,” said Messi tersely after the loss, when on air with TyC Sports in Argentina.
Playing two days after his 29th birthday, Messi lost a final for the third year in a row and the fourth time overall with Argentina.
The five-time FIFA Player of the Year Messi has won four Champions League titles and eight La Liga crowns with Barcelona, but has never won a trophy with Argentina. Much of his nation had counted on him to bring home its first major title since 1993.
Messi joins another great in his retirement, with Zlatan hanging up his boots after Sweden’s exit from the Euro 2016 in France.
Argentina’s final match against Chile went up to penalty shoot-out but luck in this year’s Copa America favoured the Chilean side again! Messi sent his shot off the mark as Chile topped La Albiceleste 4-2 from the spot.
Argentina also fell to Chile in penalties in the 2015 Copa America and lost to Germany in the 2014 World Cup final. Messi also was part of the 2007 Argentina side that lost to Brazil in the final. After the latest defeat, a frustrated Messi told reporters that he is finished with the national team.
AHORA: Messi: "Se terminó para mí la Selección" https://t.co/Nws9kiScoV
— TyC Sports (@TyCSports) June 27, 2016
“For me, the national team is over. I’ve done all I can, it hurts not to be a champion,” Messi said following his side’s defeat.
The Copa American final in New Jersey was the Barcelona star’s 112th appearance for his country.
Messi scored five goals in the tournament but blasted his penalty over the bar after the game finished 0-0 after 120 minutes.
And this is how Twitter reacted:
MESSI JUST EAT A SNICKERS ITS OK BOO PLZ STAY
— sarah o'connor⚽ (@therealOC15) June 27, 2016
Love you Messi.❤️?
— Kloppholic (@Kloppholic) June 27, 2016
“It’s tough, it’s not the time for analysis,” Messi was quoted as saying on the Argentine national team’s Twitter handle. “In the dressing room I thought that the national team was over, it’s not for me.”
Fans in Argentina still hope that Messi, still in the prime of his career, will reconsider his decision with the World Cup coming up in two years time.