Lionel Messi has announced his return to Argentina’s national team, ending his short-lived retirement from international football.
Messi, 29, called it quits after missing a penalty in the shootout defeat to Chile in this summer’s Copa America Centenario final — the third consecutive loss for Argentina in a major final.
Messi, who is Argentina’s all-time leading scorer with 55 goals in 113 appearances, made reference to federation problems a few days before the Copa final, saying the AFA, Argentine football’s governing body, was “a disaster” after the team suffered delayed flights and experienced problems finding opponents for training games.“I see that there are a lot of problems in Argentina football and I don’t want to create more,” Messi said in a statement on Friday. “I don’t want to cause harm, on the contrary, my goal was to help in any way I could.”
“There are many things that need to be fixed in Argentine football. But I prefer to help from inside rather than stand on the outside and criticise,” the statement continued.
With the CONMEBOL deadline to name the squads for September’s World Cup qualifiers looming on Friday, newly-appointed Argentina manager Edgardo Bauza had expressed confidence Messi would change his mind and opt to return to the Albiceleste side, and that belief was rewarded with Messi’s confirmation later in the day.“A lot of things ran through my head on the day of the [Copa America] final. And I seriously considered leaving the team. But I love my shirt and my country too much.“I want to thank all the fans who wanted me to keep playing for Argentina. I hope we can give them joy very soon.”