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5 players whose international careers went downhill after failed penalties

Lionel Messi's saga of failed penalties is not unique.

Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi’s career seems to have ended prematurely following the Copa

One of the current greats of international football, Lionel Messi recently announced his intention to no longer maintain an association with his national team, a move that has shocked close to everybody with some interest in the game. Over the past decade, Messi had become nearly synonymous with the beautiful game. Since his announcement, support has been pouring in from every corner with many questioning his choice to step down and perceiving it as an act of cowardice and escapism.

Although the 29-year-old is yet to come up with an official statement, statements from his own countrymen regarding his commitment to his national team have been rife in the past and may have been a probable cause for his early retirement. Messi has steered Argentina to three finals in three major tournaments and failed to win all three of them. This is a sad moment for football fans in general especially because this loss came after 120 minutes of play and a penalty shootout.

We look at 5 players whose international footballing careers went downhill following dismal penalty shootouts.

#1 David Beckham


Both the beginning and the end of Beckham's international career were not very bright. The 1998 World Cup was on in full swing when Beckham saw his first World Cup appearance for England cut short by a red card in a match against Argentina. The end, meanwhile, was marked with a terrible penalty strike against Portugal in Euro 2004. That was Beckham's third consecutive penalty miss for England and this one ensured that they would no longer be continuing in the tournament.

Beckham is another player who had to face a lot of heat from the people of his country most of all because people usually held him responsible whenever something went wrong with the English team. Case in point being the 3-2 loss against Portugal in Euro 2000 where, although he helped set up both of England's goals, he had to face a crowd of irate supporters at the stadium who repeatedly taunted him during the match.

The 2004 Euro Cup spelt disaster for Beckham in more ways than one as he was singlehandedly responsible for the one defining moment which ended England's run in the tournament. He practically had no presence during the game and cut a figure of a peripheral player for the major part. He missed a penalty which resulted in England losing the penalty shootout and the match. Later, he blamed a muddy penalty patch which caused him to hit the ball over the goal and into the stands.

In the 2006 World Cup, England exited in the quarter-final after which Beckham stepped down as captain. The highlight of his contribution in the tournament was the beautiful curling free-kick against Ecuador. England went on to lose to Portugal on penalties again in the next match, thus exiting the World Cup. He made intermittent appearances for England after that and failed to make a solid mark in any of them.

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