After missing a penalty kick and losing the Copa America final at the Metlife Stadium in New Jersey on June 26, soccer superstar Lionel Messi hinted he’ll be hanging up his Argentine jersey for good.
Messi, who just turned 29, told reporters after the game that the national team was not for him.
“In the locker room I thought the national team is over for me, it’s not for me,” said Messi. “That’s what I feel now.”
The Futbol Club Barcelona player has taken the Argentine team to four finals, but has not been able to win a cup with the team.
“It’s a big sadness that it happens to me again,” said Messi.
“It’s for the good of everyone. We don’t settle with going to the final and not winning it,” he added.
A video from a fan at the game shows Messi visibly emotional after his penalty kick, kneeling on the grass with his head down right before Chile scores the last point to win the tournament.
He was then seen with his hands on his knees in tears as teammates consoled him.
Could it get worse for Messi? Imagine being Shane Long having to play alongside Daryl Murphy https://t.co/fspMf71Loy
— Free Bets (@freebetscouk) June 27, 2016
Argentine player, Sergio “Kun” Agüero said Messi was the person who was most devastated by his penalty kick miss saying, “That is the worst I have seen him in the dressing room.”
There were rumors that other Argentine players would follow Messi and retire as well.
But goalkeeper Sergio Romero hints it might not be over for Messi, saying he was speaking in the heat of the moment.
— Selección Argentina (@Argentina) June 27, 2016
Messi, who debuted for Argentina in 2005 as a teenager, had been heavily criticized for failing to win with his national team, and having no problem winning with Spain’s Barcelona team.
Fellow Argentine Diego Maradona who led his country to win the 1986 FIFA World Cup, had recently been caught saying Messi lacked leadership for the national team to Brazil’s Pelé.
“He is a good person, but he doesn’t have personality. He doesn’t have a lot of personality to be a leader,” Maradona told Pelé.
Maradona, who was once captain of Argentina, told players before the Copa America final, “If we don’t win, don’t come back.”
Although Messi lost the Copa America final, he broke an Argentinian soccer record during the tournament. He has surpassed Gabriel Batistuta as the country’s highest goalscorer of all time. Messi earned the recognition after scoring his 55th goal for the national team during the match against the United States in front of 70,000 spectators in Houston.
“I’m happy, but I’m also grateful to my team-mates, to all of them I’ve played with lately. This record is down to them too,” Messi said after the game.
Twitter Explodes Over Messi
Messi immediately started trending on social media after his penalty kick miss and after indicating he could retire.
Agüero: “They treat him (Messi) like a criminal. He’s the one who takes the losses the hardest. Many may follow him in retiring.”
— infosmessi (@Infosmessi_) June 27, 2016
Messi’s tears were all over twitter:
— shakazulu (@pabloclavers) June 27, 2016
Messi’s ARG career began in tears after his red card vs Hungary and it ended in tears after the defeat vs Chile pic.twitter.com/JsGaJyIbOZ
— MESSISTATS (@MessiStats) June 27, 2016
People also begged the soccer player to not retire. #MiMensajeaMessi, which translates to My Message to Messi kicked off on Twitter:
It’s too early Champ. You’re an Argentine and Argentina needs you. We need you. Football is not same. Please Comeback. #MiMensajeAMessi
— Tallal Khan (@m_tallalkhan) June 27, 2016
Don’t go down. Not like this.
Sincerely, every football fan. https://t.co/NgFJeOd6Nw
— Funny Football (@Funny_Futball) June 27, 2016
Messi is still to confirm whether he will actually retire.