Lionel Messi Retires
No, you’re not dreaming. And no, this isn’t some horrifying alternate reality where a Real Madrid starting XI consisting solely of Ronaldo robots have won the Champions League five times on the trot. Lionel Messi has really retired from international football following his country’s narrow loss to Chile in the final of this year’s Copa America tournament.
Having only recently become Argentina’s record goal scorer, the 29-year old forward has decided to forego pulling on the Argentinean jersey ever again after having represented his national side in a prolific 113 appearances.
Messi was quoted on the official Argentinian football teams's Twitter account in order to make his shocking announcement official last night, as a crucial missed spot kick in the penalty shootout appears to have been the final straw for the owner of five FIFA Ballon d’Or who has previously tasted the bitterness of defeat in the 2015 Copa America final, the 2014 World Cup Final, and the 2007 Copa America final.
It seems to have been a case of always the bridesmaid and never the bride on the international stage for Lionel Messi, whose retirement will more than likely be music to the ears of a certain Diego Maradona - keen to retain his crown as the greatest player his country, and the world, has ever seen. Whether or not Messi can rightfully contest that title is another matter entirely, however, what remains confirmed by Messi’s announcement is that it was Maradona, and not Messi, who was able to lead his country to the elusive Jules Rimet trophy. And that’s got to hurt.
Perhaps all hope is not lost though, as the precedent for returning from a self-imposed retirement has been set before. Who could ever forget Zinedine Zidane’s inspirational return to the French national side, after his 2004 retirement, when he was triumphantly reinstated as captain and led his side all the way to the 2006 World Cup final? No-one. Which is part of the problem for Zidane. It was the very same game where the Frenchman was notoriously red carded for a head butt on Italian stallion Marco Materazzi before his side lost out to the opposition on penalties. On second thoughts, maybe it’s best that Leo doesn’t make a return.
Here are some of the marvelous man's most memorable moments in blue and white: