Messi Chokes, Abruptly Ends International Career

Star's heat-of-the-moment decision could hurt his legacy
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 27, 2016 9:53 AM CDT
Messi Chokes, Abruptly Ends International Career
Lionel Messi is seen after Argentina's loss in the Copa America final.   (Julie Jacobson)

Soccer star Lionel Messi, hailed by many as one of the best to ever play the game, missed a penalty kick in a shootout in Sunday's Copa America final and abruptly announced he would stop playing for his Argentina national team, reports the AP. Messi has led his Barcelona club to eight Spanish league titles, four Champions League titles, and three Club World Cup trophies. But he's failed to consistently produce brilliant performances with Argentina, which won gold at the 2008 Olympics but lost in the 2014 World Cup final. Some national team fans are calling their biggest star a quitter and saying that the 29-year-old is still young enough to try to help Argentina win the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

"That's it, I've already tried enough," Messi said after the miss. "It pains me more than anyone not being able to be a champion with Argentina, but that's the way it is. It wasn't meant to be," he added. "I think this is best for everyone.” Messi was clear about his intentions but a change of heart can’t be ruled out considering he was speaking after just falling short of the title in heartbreaking fashion. If Messi indeed ends his international career without a major title, he will fall further behind former great Diego Maradona in the always lively discussion in Argentina about who was the best player of all time. Some of Maradona's best moments came while wearing the jersey of Argentina, which he led to the World Cup title in 1986 and to a runner-up finish in 1990. (More soccer stories.)

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