Jun 28, 2016

    Messi spoke of retirement only in heat of moment: Romero


    LIONEL Messi has said that he is to retire from international football after Argentina were beaten 4-2 by Chile in a penalty shootout in the Copa America final on Sunday, the fourth final the Barcelona striker has lost with the national side.

    The five-time World Player of the Year missed Argentina's opening penalty in the shootout after the game ended 0-0 and he was in tears while sitting in the team dugout.

    "It's tough, it's not the time for analysis," he said.

    "I tried so hard to be champion with Argentina. But it didn't happen. I couldn't do it."

    He has played in three Copa America finals in 2007, 2015 and this year and the 2014 World Cup final, and was on the losing side every time.

    Argentina failed to score in all four matches.

    The decision by the 29-year-old, who surpassed Gabriel Batistuta as his country's highest goalscorer last week, came as a shock to his teammates, who said they hoped his decision was not irrevocable.

    Sergio Aguero, Messi's best friend on the team, said he had never seen the mood in the dressing room so low while goalkeeper Sergio Romero suggested he might rethink his decision.

    "I think Leo spoke in the heat of the moment because we missed that great chance," said Romero.

    Messi, widely held to be the greatest player of his generation, has won every trophy possible at club level with Barcelona, though his only titles with Argentina were the Under-20 World Cup and the 2008 Olympics.

    Those successes, however, led Juan Antonio Pizzi, the Argentine coach of Chile, to praise Messi's influence on the game at the post-match media conference, even though he was unaware of his compatriot's decision at the time.

    "I believe that Messi is the best player in history... and I think the numbers are irrefutable."