East Rutherford, June 28: Lionel Messi sensationally announced his retirement from international football here after Argentina crashsed to defeat against Chile in Copa America Centenario final. Chile upset favourites Argentina with a penalty shootout victory at MetLife Stadium on Sunday to retain their title in the world’s oldest continental football completion.
Chile earned themselves bragging rights as South America’s dominant team as they beat heavyweights Argentina 4-2 on penalties for second straight year.
Messi missed the spot on the shootout, cutting a dejected figure. The two sides were deadlocked 0-0 after 90 minutes and also after another half an hour of extra time in a match where both teams were reduced to 10 men in the first half.
After sending his shot over Chile goalkeeper Claudio scoring Bravo into the stands, Messi turned, bowed his head and clenched both firsts in frustration.
A crestfallen Messi later confirmed his decision to quit after yet agonizing near-miss with Argentina, who have now lost three major tournament finals in a row since 2014.
His nation’s captain and career scoring leader with 55 goals in 113 international appearances, Messi sent Argentina’s first penalty kick over the crossbar.
“The national team is over for me,” Messi told the Argentina 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 could not get it, so I think it’s over.”
Messi and Argentina lost to Brazil in the 2007Copa Final and to Germany in extra time in the 2014 World Cup final. They lost last year to Copa final to Chile on penalty kicks after a 0-0 draw.
Messi moved to Barcelona in 2001 when he was 13, and many fans at home have criticized him for not leading the nation to a World Cup title as Diego Marodona 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 is a lot of people who want this, who obviously are not satisfied reaching a final and not winning it.”