I’ve done all I can, it hurts not to be a champion,’ says Argentina superstar after Copa America final loss to Chile.
Lionel Messi, the five-time FIFA World Player of the Year, has announced his retirement from international football after Argentina lost the second Copa America title to Chile in two years.
“For me, the national team is over. I’ve done all I can, it hurts not to be a champion,” the 29-year-old Barcelona superstar told reporters on Sunday after his fourth defeat in a major final with Argentina.
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 US to mark the championship’s 100th anniversary.
Messi and Lucas Biglia missed their shots for Argentina.
It was the third consecutive loss at a major international tournament for Messi and his teammates after losing out to Germany in the World Cup in 2014, and the two Copa America defeats to Chile in 2015 and 2016.
Messi, winner of four Champions League titles and eight Spanish La Liga crowns with Barcelona, was also a member of Argentina’s Copa America team that lost to Brazil in 2007.
Correspondent Daniel Schweimler, reporting from the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, after the final, said that “great despondency was descending on Argentina” following the three consecutive final losses.
“There is this great generation of players – including Messi, Angel Di Maria, Sergio Aguero, so many wonderful players – yet they are unable to win a major tournament.
“They are reaching the finals but they just don’t seem to have yet it takes to be able to get their hands on those trophies. I think there’s a great deal of soul searching, a great deal of questioning now about to take place here in Argentina.”
Argentina has not won a major senior title since the 1993 Copa America.
Messi wept on the pitch of the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey as Chile’s players celebrated their second consecutive win.
“There is no limit to this team,” Chile midfielder Arturo Vidal said. “We will keep going, we will keep fighting.”
“Argentina have a very good, world-class team, and it is especially beautiful to beat them,” said striker Eduardo Vargas.
“We are a historic group, we have proved it.”
Following an ill-tempered evening that included a first-half sent-off for both times and eight yellow cards, the game was scoreless through regulation and 30 minutes of extra time.
In the penalty shootout, Chile’s players aimed better, and goalkeeper Claudio Bravo got to lift the trophy in the presence of FIFA president Gianni Infantino.