Football

Messi lost his fourth major final with Argentina..

Lionel Messi looks devastated after Copa America final whistle

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Most of Argentina is currently asleep but when they wake up they are set to get one of the shocks of their lives: Lionel Messi has retired from international duty.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner, who has a trophy cabinet that would leave any professional footballer feeling undermined, lost his fourth major final with Argentina on Sunday night and his third in as many years.

They faced Chile in the Copa America Centenario final in what was a repeat of the 2015 version. And just the same as last year, the two teams played out a 0-0 stalemate and headed for penalties. Chile won 4-2 with Messi missing one of the penalties with a wild effort.

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That led him to say this: "It's not meant for me. For me, the national team is over. I've done all I can, it hurts not to be a champion.

"It's been four finals, I tried. It was the thing I wanted the most, but I couldn't get it, so I think it's over."

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Unfortunate end

If it is to be the end for the world's greatest player, then his legacy with the national team will forever be one of both misfortune and underachievement.

In an alternative reality, Messi has won the World Cup and two Copa Americas in the last three years, becoming an instant legend and undoubted best player of all time. But we live in this universe and Messi has come agonisingly close to each and every one of those trophies only to miss out on every occasion.

Argentina v Chile: Championship - Copa America Centenario

Criticism

Messi will be wary that Argentina fans will criticise him for walking away when the chips are down. They, along with the local press, have always gone with the narrative that Messi sees himself as a Spaniard and can therefore not commit himself wholly to Argentina's cause.

But no one who watched the aftermath of Sunday's final can accuse the Barcelona star of lacking passion for his home country.

As he did against Germany in the World Cup and Chile last year, the 29-year-old looked absolutely devastated by the bitter taste of defeat. For a man used to winning it seems this defeat was simply too much to take.

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Topics:
Barcelona
Football
Argentina Football
Neymar
Lionel Messi

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