After suffering a third major international tournament final defeat in as many years on Sunday night, Lionel Messi called time on his Argentina career.
"It's been four finals, I tried," Messi, who has played 113 times for his country, was quoted as saying by BBC Sport after Argentina’s defeat to Chile. "It was the thing I wanted the most, but I couldn't get it, so I think it's over.
"I think this is best for everyone. First of all for me, then for everyone.
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"I think there's a lot of people who want this, who obviously are not satisfied, as we are not satisfied reaching a final and not winning it.
"It's very hard, but the decision is taken. Now I will not try more and there will be no going back."
Defeat hit Messi hard
Messi was in tears at the final whistle; this was a defeat which clearly hit the five-time Ballon d’Or winner hard.
Argentina were strong favourites to win against the team who beat them in last year’s final, but it wasn’t to be. The Albicelestes had their chances to score - Gonzalo Higuain spurning arguably the best opportunity - and were eventually punished for their profligacy.
Messi missed Argentina’s first spot-kick in the shoot-out, which Chile went on to win 4-2.
Hours after the match, as news of Messi’s decision was reverberating across the globe, a group of Argentina supporters waited outside the team’s hotel for the players to emerge.
Video: Fans shout 'Messi don't go!'
As Messi made his way on to the team coach, shouts of “Messi no te vayas” - “Messi don’t go” - were heard on a video uploaded to YouTube, per 101 Great Goals.
Argentina supporters have had a strange relationship with Messi, who left the country when he was 13 in order to join Barcelona, but it’s clear that they’re worried by the prospect of losing the services of the world’s best player - despite the fact he failed to score from the spot against Chile.
Some people believe Messi could reverse his decision, certainly in time for the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia although nothing is certain at the moment.
Tim Vickery on Messi's 'retirement'
“He lost [the Copa America final] this way last year and, of course, the World Cup final the year before so there is a lot of emotional pain there and this could be something said in the heat of the moment,” South American football expert Tim Vickery told talkSPORT this morning.
“That is one side of the story, the possibility that this was just something said in the heat of the moment and in the cool but painful light of day he will decide to carry on.
“But there is another side to the story, a side that goes beyond merely the pain of defeat. It is that Messi and the Argentine FA are in conflict.
“The Argentine FA are in absolute chaos at the moment and that has had an impact on the logistics and the organisation and the preparation of this team during the competition.
“There is a problem there and if he is pushed over the edge it won’t just be the pain of defeat - it will be that he is fed up of the Argentine FA.”
Has Lionel Messi played his final match for Argentina - or will he return? Have your say by leaving a comment below.