Argentine president, Maradona urge Messi to stay on

Millions of fans around the world have taken to social media to urge Messi to reconsider his decision to retire from international football.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

But after Sunday's final, Messi's typical composure gave way to tears of frustration.

A spot-kick blazed high into the stands. 

Will that be Lionel Messi's last touch in international football?

The 29-year-old Argentinian wizard announced his retirement from the international game right after his side lost the Copa America final to Chile on Sunday.

In a fixture decided on penalties, Messi cut a disconsolate figure pumping his shot way over the bar and failing yet again to guide his side in a major tournament.

The world's attention quickly turned from Chile's heroics in retaining their title to Messi's shock retirement. On Tuesday Argentina's President Mauricio Macri, football legend Diego Maradona and millions of fans around the world joined an ever-increasing chorus pleading the player to reverse his decision.

"He has to stay because he still has playing days ahead of him," Maradona was quoted as saying by La Nacion newspaper online.

"He will go to Russia in form to be world champion."

Messi is widely rated as the best player in the world, but Sunday's loss was his fourth defeat in an international final for Argentina. The team has not won a major trophy for 23 years now.

President Macri joined the calls for the Barcelona superstar to stay with with the national team.

"He called him and told him how proud he feels of the national team's performance and asked him not to listen to the criticism," a spokesman for Macri told AFP by telephone.

Argentine football 'disaster'

The 1986 World Cup winner Maradona, 55, blamed Argentina's recent lack of trophies on the country's football association (AFA).

He accused it of not supporting Messi and letting him take the blame for Sunday's defeat.

"Those who are saying he should quit are doing it so that we won't see what a disaster Argentine football has become," La Nacion quoted Maradona as saying.

Messi and the squad landed back in Buenos Aires on Monday evening after the tournament in the United States.

Television cameras followed their coach but the players had yet to make any comment to the media.

String of defeats 

Argentina were beaten 1-0 by Germany in the final of the 2014 World Cup and lost on penalties, also to Chile, in the 2015 Copa America final.

Messi also tasted defeat with Argentina in the final of the 2007 Copa America.

In this month's Copa semi-final win over the United States, he became Argentina's top international scorer of all time with his 55th goal.

But after Sunday's final, his typical composure gave way to tears of frustration.

"I've done all I can, I've been in four finals and it hurts not to be a champion," Messi told reporters.

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TRTWorld and agencies