Fans, Argentina's president want Messi to reconsider

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June 28, 2016
Argentina's Lionel Messi

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP):

Some fans, players, and even Argentina's president, want Lionel Messi to reconsider. Other supporters yesterday were simply sad that he's quitting the national team.

Messi shocked his native country with his abrupt resignation from international football after Chile defeated Argentina 4-2 on penalties after a 0-0 draw on Sunday.

"The national team is over for me," Messi told the Argentine network TyC Sports. "It's been four finals, it's not meant for me. I tried. It was the thing I wanted the most, but I couldn't get it, so I think it's over."

Messi lifted Argentina's first penalty kick over the crossbar, setting the stage for another loss in a final. Messi and Argentina lost to Brazil in the 2007 Copa final and to Germany in extra time in the 2014 World Cup final. They lost last year's Copa final to host Chile on penalty kicks after a 0-0 draw.

Messi moved to Barcelona in 2001 when he was 13, producing lots of hardware for the Catalan club. But many fans at home have criticised him for not leading the nation to a World Cup title, as Diego Maradona did in 1986.

"On top of everything, I missed the penalty kick," Messi told TyC. "I think this is best for everyone. First of all for me, and then for everyone."

Enormous sadness

Fans gathered outside the downtown office of the Argentine Football Association, many torn by Messi's promised departure.

"I feel an enormous sadness, it tears my heart in two," said 29-year-old Juan Pablo Pinasco.

Argentine President Mauricio Macri said on Twitter that "more than ever I feel great pride for our team. I hope we can continue to have the joy of seeing the world's best player for many years."

Macri, a former president of Boca Juniors, one of Argentina's top soccer clubs, ended his tweet with the hashtag #NoTeVayasLio (#Don'tLeaveLeo), which became a global trending topic on Monday.

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