Argetine football legend Diego Maradona has pleaded with Lionel Messi to rescind his decision to retire from international football, following Argentina’s Copa America Centenario final loss to Chile.
After losing his fourth final for his country — after the World Cup two years ago and the Copa America in 2007, 2015 and 2016 — an emotional Messi said:”It’s a hard moment for me and the team, and it’s difficult to say, but it’s over with the Argentina team.
“I’ve done all I can, I’ve been in four finals and it hurts not to be a champion.”
The post-match revelations made waves across the world but Maradona has decided to speak out publicly in an attempt to persuade the Barcelona man to rethink his future.
“He has to stay because he still has playing days ahead of him,” Maradona, 55, told La Nacion newspaper. “He will go to Russia [2018 World Cup] in form to be world champion.”
The 1986 World Cup winner blamed Argentina’s recent lack of trophies on the country’s football association, saying: “Those who are saying he should quit are doing it so that we won’t see what a disaster Argentine football has become.”
After an outpouring of disappointment by fans online, Mauricio Macri, president of the Argentine football federation, joined the calls for the 29-year-old to stay with the country.
“He called him and told him how proud he feels of the national team’s performance and asked him not to listen to the criticism,” a spokesman for Macri said.
The president himself later tweeted: “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.”