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Added June 28th, 2016 by Ian

Lionel Messi quits international football after Copa America loss

It may have just been said in the heat of the moment, but Argentine soccer star Lionel Messi announced on June 26th that he is retiring from the international game. The announcement came following his team’s loss in the 2016 Copa America Centenario Tournament at East Rutherford, New Jersey in the U.S. Argentina was topped 4-2 by Chile in a penalty shootout following their 0-0 draw after 120 minutes of play. Messi took one of the penalty shots, but failed to score as he fired the ball over the net. Chile also beat Argentina in the 2015 Copa America event in Chile in a penalty shootout following another 0-0 draw.

Messi, who plays for Barcelona in the Spanish La Liga, is currently the reigning player-of-the-year and has won the prestigious Ballon d’or Award a record five times. Messi has now been involved in four major tournament losses with Argentina over the past nine years with his only triumph being the 2008 Olympic Games. The 29-year-old told the media after the most recent defeat, “For me, the national team is over. I’ve done all I can. It hurts not to be a champion.”

However, things have certainly been a lot different for Messi at Barcelona as he’s won four European Champions League medals with his club side along with eight La Liga crowns and numerous other pieces of silverware. Messi also played on the Argentine side that lost the 2014 World Cup final 1-0 to Germany and the 2007 Copa America tournament against arch rival Brazil. Messi has played 113 matches for his homeland since making his debut in 2005 and has scored a country-record 55 goals. Five of those goals came in this year’s Copa America and he leaves the team with one more than former record holder Gabriel Batistuta.

Messi, who was the captain of the Argentina squad, said it wasn’t easy to announce his decision, but feels it’s the best thing to do for everybody involved. He added, “It’s very hard, but the decision is taken. Now I will not try more and there will be no going back.” Argentina goaltender Sergio Romero stated that Messi probably made the announcement out of frustration and he may not stick to it. He also said some other Argentine players may follow suit as the state of the dressing room was the worst he’s seen it following the defeat to Chile. Romero added, “There are several players who are evaluating not continuing with the national team. It is the worst defeat ever, worse than the two other finals. So the thinking is it might be time to make room for other players.”

According to the La Nacion newspaper in Argentina the likes of Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and Javier Mascherano may also leave the team and possibly Angel di Maria, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Ever Banega and Lucas Biglia. Argentina has already played six qualifying games for the 2018 World Cup in Russia and sit third in the standings, a pair of points back of table-topping Uruguay. The four top teams will qualify for the tournament while the fifth-place nation will enter the playoffs against the best Oceania squad.

 
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