Lionel Messi has announced his retirement from international football at age 29. In the wake of an emotional loss to Chile at the Copa América Centenario final – in which he missed a penalty kick – Messi publicly declared that he’s through with playing for Argentina.
“I’m done with the national team. It’s been four finals. It’s not for me. Unfortunately, I went for it,” he said. “It was what I most desired, and it didn’t happen for me. I think that’s it.” It’s possible that Messi is just worn down from three straight years of tournaments ending in heartbreaking losses. He also expressed frustration with the Argentine federation earlier in the week. Argentina, and soccer fans in general, can only hope he’ll reconsider.
His Barcelona teammate, 32-year-old Javier Mascherano, joined him in retiring from Argentina, and his presence will also be missed, as he’s been an extraordinary leader who provided the grit to go with Messi’s magic. Many footballers have retired from international play only to have a change of heart once the big tournaments roll back around. Argentina certainly has enough talent to qualify for the World Cup without him, and they’ll certainly hold spots for Messi and Mascherano should they be willing to give it one more shot.
Update, 6/27 at 2:10 a.m. ET: In a sign that is seriously with the Argentine Federation, reports have surfaced that many more players plan to retire.