Lionel Messi Retires from International Football After Argentina’s Copa America Loss to Chile in 2016

Lionel Messi, the iconic Argentine forward in a heart-wrenching announcement, has declared his retirement from international football following Argentina’s defeat to Chile in the Copa America final in 2016.

“The national team is done for me,” After losing in a penalty shootout in New Jersey, the 29-year-old Barcelona star remarked, “I’ve done all I can; it hurts not to be a champion.”

Lionel Messi Retires from International Football After Argentina’s Copa America Loss to Chile in 2016
Lionel Messi has announced his retirement from the professional game after exerting all effort to help Argentina win the Copa America. @Sky Sports

Messi’s Farewell to International Football

Lionel Messi, widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, expressed his deep disappointment after Argentina’s loss. “For me, the national team is over. I’ve done all I can; it hurts not to be a champion,” said the 29-year-old Barcelona superstar after the penalty shootout defeat in New Jersey.

Messi’s retirement decision came just two days after his 29th birthday, marking a sorrowful end to his international career that saw him fall short in four major finals.

Heartbreaking Losses and Missed Opportunities

Argentina’s recent defeat to Chile in the Copa America final, where Messi missed a crucial penalty, was a significant blow. This loss followed a series of near misses, including Argentina’s losses in the 2014 World Cup final to Germany and back-to-back Copa America final defeats to Chile in 2015 and 2016.

Despite his illustrious career, Messi’s failure to secure a major international title has been a point of contention among fans and critics alike.

A Career Filled with Achievements

Messi’s international retirement underscores a career filled with remarkable achievements at the club level. The five-time FIFA Player of the Year has won four Champions League titles and eight La Liga crowns with Barcelona. However, his international career has been plagued by comparisons to Argentine legend Diego Maradona, who led Argentina to World Cup victory in 1986.

Maradona’s frequent criticism of Messi, including comments about his leadership qualities, has added to the pressure on the Barcelona forward. “He’s a really good person, but he has no personality,” Maradona said recently, questioning Messi’s character as a leader.

The End of an Era

Messi’s decision to retire follows a challenging season disrupted by injuries and off-field issues, including a tax fraud trial in Spain. Despite these challenges, Messi demonstrated his commitment to Argentina by participating in a low-key friendly against Honduras shortly before the Copa America, where he suffered a back injury.

Also Read: Lionel Messi’s 2013 Tax Fraud Ordeal: A Turning Point in His Glorious Barcelona Career

Throughout the tournament, Messi showcased his brilliance, scoring a hat-trick against Panama and setting a new record as Argentina’s leading goalscorer with 55 international goals. His exceptional performances included a stunning free-kick against the USA, underscoring his unparalleled talent.

Tributes and Reflections

Following the final, Chile’s Argentine-born coach, Juan Antonio Pizzi, paid tribute to Messi, calling him the “best player ever.” Pizzi emphasized Messi’s extraordinary achievements and predicted that his records would stand the test of time.

“My generation can’t compare him to Maradona; that’s for my generation, because of what Maradona did for Argentine soccer. But I think the best player ever played today here in the United States,” said Pizzi.

Messi’s retirement from international football marks the end of an era for Argentina. His contributions to the national team have been significant, despite the absence of a major title. As fans and fellow players reflect on his career, Messi’s legacy as one of football’s greatest talents remains firmly intact.

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