Fans, Argentina president want Messi to reconsider

ASSOCIATED PRESS
BUENOS AIRES
Published 28.06.2016 22:27
Fans gathered outside the downtown office of the Argentine Football Association, many torn by Messi’s promised departure.
Fans gathered outside the downtown office of the Argentine Football Association, many torn by Messi’s promised departure.

Some fans, players, and even Argentina's president want Lionel Messi to reconsider. Other supporters on Monday were simply sad that he's quitting the national team. Messi shocked his native country with his abrupt resignation from international football after Chile defeated Argentina 4-2 on penalties after a 0-0 draw on Sunday.

"The national team is over for me," Messi Told the Argentine network TyC Sports. "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."

Messi lifted Argentina's first penalty kick over the crossbar, setting the stage for another loss in a final. Messi and Argentina lost to Brazil in the 2007 Copa final and to Germany in extra time in the 2014 World Cup final. They lost last year's Copa final to host Chile on penalty kicks after a 0-0 draw.

"I imagine it was a very hard blow," Barcelona teammate Gerard Pique said. "I know how competitive he is. He will recover from this."

Messi moved to Barcelona in 2001 when he was 13, producing lots of hardware for the Catalan club. But many fans at home have criticized him for not leading the nation to a World Cup title, as Diego Maradona did in 1986.

"On top of everything, I missed the penalty kick," Messi told TyC. "I think this is best for everyone. First of all for me, and then for everyone. I think there are a lot of people who want this, who obviously are not satisfied, as we are not satisfied reaching a final and not winning it."

"I feel an enormous sadness, it tears my heart in two," said 29-year-old Juan Pablo Pinasco. "It was the cup that he (Messi) had to win, more than anything it is something that he deserves and I just don't want him to leave the national team."

Argentine President Mauricio Macri said on Twitter that "more than ever I feel great pride for our team. I hope we can continue to have the joy of seeing the world's best player for many years." Macri, a former president of Boca Juniors, one of Argentina's top football clubs, ended his tweet with the hashtag #NoTeVayasLio (#Don'tLeaveLio), which became a global trending topic on Monday.

Argentina's next competitive match is a World Cup qualifier against Uruguay in September, and the top-ranked Albiceleste are considered among the early favorites to win the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Messi, who turned 29 on Friday, won under-20 and Olympic (under-23) titles with Argentina. He has led Barcelona to four Champions League and eight Spanish league titles, scoring 453 competitive goals in 531 games, including a La Liga-record 312.

He is the national team's career leading scorer with 55 goals in 113 international appearances.

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