Barcelona football great Lionel Messi said he would never try to win anything for his country Argentina again.
Messi threw in the towel on national glory after losing another second consecutive Copa America final to South American rivals Chile.
The soccer legend missed his kick from twelve yards after no goal could separate both teams after a pulsating 120 minutes in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
“It’s been four finals, I tried,” said Messi whose only major international honour is 2008 Olympic gold.
“It was the thing I wanted the most, but I couldn’t get it, so I think it’s over,” he said.
The Argentina captain helped his side into the final by scoring five goals including a superb free-kick in the semi-final to become his country’s record scorer with 55 goals.
But Chile beat Argentina 4-2 on penalties after the finale ended 0-0.
The defeat means Argentina lost a fourth major final in nine years. They were beaten 1-0 in the 2014 World Cup final by Germany before two Copa America final defeats by Chile on penalties. Messi was also on the losing side against Brazil in the 2007 Copa America final.
Former Argentina great Maradona seemed to have piled pressure on Messi after saying the Barcelona player was great but lacked the character to lead a team.
Before the final game, Argentina coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino also said Messi had finally
found “Barcelona form” for Argentina, a probably unintended accusation of national apathy on the soccer star. And coming from the national team coach.
Messi’s retirement from national football means such pressures and “accusations” may no longer come his way.
Messi has scored 453 times in 531 games, including a La Liga record 312 goals, for Barcelona.
He has also won the Ballon d’Or award for the world’s best player five times all based on his exploits for the La Liga giants.
Messi’s national football career may now rest in peace.