Diego Maradona urges Lionel Messi to reconsider his decision to retire
Lionel Messi shocked the footballing world when he announced his retirement from international football after Argentina’s loss to Chile in the Copa America final. Messi, who is just 29, was dejected after losing his third major final in three years and fourth overall.
Speaking to reporters immediately after the final, an emotional Lionel Messi had said:
"My thinking right now and thinking about it in the locker room, I'm done playing with the national team,
"I tried my hardest. It's been four finals, and I was not able to win. I tried everything possible. It hurts me more than anyone, but it is evident that this is not for me. I want more than anyone to win a title with the national team, but unfortunately, it did not happen."
When he was asked whether he would wear an Argentina shirt again, Messi replied saying:
"I don't think so, I've thought about it. Like I said earlier, I tried everything possible to win. And that's it. It's four finals lost."
Diego Maradona who was critical of Lionel Messi before the start of the tournament and said that he lacked personality, urged Messi to consider playing till atleast the 2018 World Cup:
"Messi has to stay in the national team. He will go to Russia in form to be world champion," Maradona told La Nacion
"He has to rely more on boys who can help take the team forward and less on those who say they have to go.
"Those who are saying he should quit are doing it so that we won't see what a disaster Argentine football has become."
Maradona also joined Lionel Messi in criticising the Argentina football federation. He said:
"I am very sorry and very angry with what is happening to Argentine football," he added. "We hit bottom, we reached the bottom."
With Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano already having announced their retirements, there have been reports that a host of other players like Angel Di Maria, Sergio Aguero, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Lucas Bigila are set to follow suit.
Argentina are still the number 1 ranked team in FIFA rankings, but the loss of three consecutive finals seems to have hit the current generation of players pretty hard with many of them now considering retirement.
Fans of Lionel Messi and Argentina will be hoping that Messi reconsiders his decision and comes back to play for the national team again.