Lionel Messi has performed a U-turn on his decision to retire from international football and will play for Argentina again.
The Barcelona superstar quit international football following Argentina’s defeat to Chile in this summer’s Copa America final in the United States.
Messi, who missed a penalty in the shoot-out, stood on the MetLife Stadium pitch in tears as the Chileans lifted the trophy. This was Argentina’s third major final defeat in as many years, following the national team’s losses in the 2014 World Cup and 2015 Copa America finals.
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“It’s tough, it’s not the time for analysis,” Messi was quoted as saying by the Guardian after the match in East Rutherford. “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 [a] champion with Argentina. But it didn’t happen. I couldn’t do it. I think it’s best for everyone, for me and for many people who want it. The choice for me is over, it is a decision. I tried many times [to be a champion] but did not.”
Messi performs U-turn and explains decision
Messi, it seemed, has made his decision and there appeared to be no going back.
However, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner has changed his mind following a meeting with Argentina’s newly-appointed manager Edgardo Bauza on Thursday.
The Argentine Football Association have released a statement - in Spanish - confirming the news.
AFP sports correspondent Kieran Canning has translated Messi’s key comments…
"I consider there to be a lot of problems in Argentine football and it's not my intention to create another one,” the 29-year-old said.
“[There are] a lot of issues that need to be resolved in Argentine football, but I prefer to help from within not to criticise from outside.
“Thanks to all of those who want me to continue playing for Argentina, I hope that we'll give them something to cheer about soon.”
Great news for all football fans
The news is great for all lovers of the beautiful game.
All going well, Messi will now be in Russia for the 2018 World Cup finals.
Is Lionel Messi right to come out of international retirement? Have your say by leaving a comment below.