It was dis-heartening for the great Argentinian player Lionel Messi to miss his chance to lead his country towards victory. But his decision in quitting the national team has been more dis-heartening for all his football fans around the world. However, Diego Maradona has urged Argentina captain Lionel Messi not to retire from international football despite their Copa America final defeat to Chile.
In what was a tense match where both sides played out a goalless draw in normal time, extra-time followed a similar pattern of play to send the teams into a dreaded penalty shootout.
Messi missed the first penalty in the 4-2 shootout defeat, which was the third consecutive loss in a major final for La Albiceleste.
The Barcelona forward was devastated after the game and made known his intention to quit international football.
Maradona, who said prior to the Copa America Centenario that Messi lacked the personality to lead his country, has asked of the five-time Ballon d’Or winner to retract his decision and play on until the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
“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 in the criticism of the Argentina Football Association (AFA), which comes after Messi’s outburst before the final, where he blamed the country’s football governing body for poor planning which included a delayed flight at the Houston airport.
“I am very sorry and very angry with what is happening to Argentine football,” he added. “We hit bottom, we reached the bottom.”
Messi has yet to pick up a winners’ medal at senior international level, only managing an Olympic men’s football gold medal in 2008 to go with the FIFA world youth championship title he picked up in 2005.