Lionel Messi has indicated his international football career is over at the age of 29 after he blazed a penalty over the bar in Argentina’s defeat in the Copa América final to Chile.
The Argentina captain missed his spot kick in the decisive shootout at Met Life Stadium, which Chile went on to win 4-2 and secure a second Copa crown in two years, and was disconsolate on the pitch after the game.
“It’s tough, it’s not the time for analysis,” he said. “In the dressing room I thought that this is the end for me with the national team, it’s not for me.
“That’s the way I feel right now, it’s a huge sadness once again and I missed the penalty that was so important.
“I tried so hard to be champion with Argentina. But it didn’t happen. I couldn’t do it.”
The defeat continued Argentina’s 23-year trophyless run and Messi’s own personal misery now extends to four lost finals with the national side – at the 2014 World Cup against Germany and at three Copa Américas, in 2007, 2015 and now 2016.
Argentina coach Gerardo Martino said: “The burden of the consecutive games [lost] has been accumulating these last two years. He feels like you would expect a player to feel after playing and losing a final.”
Messi had enjoyed another impressive outing in the latest final of his international career but failed to find a finishing touch over 120 minutes of play.
Still, few would have expected him to miss from 12 yards after Chile’s Arturo Vidal had seen the first kick of the shootout saved by Sergio Romero.
But the Barcelona forward conspired to balloon the ball over the bar and pass up the chance to give his side an early advantage.