Messi missed a penalty in the shootout that decided the Copa América final and later said he would retire from international football
Lionel Messi announced his retirement from international football after missing in a penalty shootout as Argentina lost a fourth major final in nine years. The Copa America final was decided on penalties after Argentina and Chile failed to score during normal time. Chile won 4 – 2 in the penalty shootout.
The Argentina football team captain missed his spot-kick in the decisive shootout at Met Life Stadium, which Chile went on to win 4-2 and secure a second Copa crown in two years, and was disconsolate on the pitch after the game.
In the first round of the penalty shootout, the two stars, Chile’s Arturo Vidal and Messi, failed. Vidal’s shot was stopped by Sergio Romero, and Messi skied his effort over the crossbar.
“It’s been four finals, I tried. It was the thing I wanted the most, but I couldn’t get it, so I think it’s over,” Lionel Messi said.
“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 in the wake of the penalty shoot-out defeat in New Jersey. “It’s been four finals, it’s not meant for me. I tried. It was the thing I wanted the most, but I couldn’t get it, so I think it’s over.”
Chile beat Argentina in the final for the second straight year, 4-2, in the shootout following a 0-0 tie that ended an expanded 16-nation edition in the United States to mark the championship’s 100th anniversary.
The defeat continued Argentina’s 23-year trophyless run and Messi’s own personal misery now extends to four lost finals with the national side – at the 2014 World Cup against Germany and at three Copa Américas, in 2007, 2015 and now 2016.
Argentina coach Gerardo Martino said: “The burden of the consecutive games [lost] has been accumulating these last two years. He feels like you would expect a player to feel after playing and losing a final.”
Although regarded as one of the greatest footballers ever, Messi has regularly been criticised by demanding fans for his failure to land a major title with Argentina. Sergio Aguero, Messi’s best friend on the team, said he had never seen the mood in the dressing room so low, while Manchester United goalkeeper Sergio Romero is hopeful that Messi may rethink his decision.
With Barcelona, Messi has won eight La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues. But his only major international honour is 2008 Olympic gold.
Argentina has not won a major title since the 1993 Copa America and, with Sunday’s defeat, fell in the final of a big tournament for the third consecutive summer.
In 2014 he was named as the best player at the World Cup, with then-Fifa president Sepp Blatter saying he was “a little bit surprised” and Argentina legend Diego Maradona calling the decision “unfair”.
Chile had waited 99 years to win its first Copa title last year; the second came less than a year later. Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.
Lionel Messi made his international debut against Hungary in August 2005 when he came on as a substitute, but was sent off less than a minute later for elbowing an opponent who pulled his shirt.
Messi, a five-time Ballon d’Or winner, was representing his country for the 112th time since making his debut in 2005 as an 18-year-old. In that time he scored 55 times, including five this tournament. He surpassed Gabriel Batistuta’s all-time leading mark of 54 for Argentina with a superb free-kick in last week’s semi-final against the US.