Messi says he has retired from internationals

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Lionel Messi retires from international football

EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey, June 27 (Reuters) - Lionel Messi has said that he is to retire from international soccer after Argentina were beaten 4-2 by Chile in a penalty shootout in the Copa America final on Sunday, the fourth final the Barcelona striker has lost with the national side.

Messi, a five times World Player of the Year, missed Argentina's opening penalty in the shootout after the game ended 0-0 and he was shown in tears while sitting in the team dugout.

"It's tough, it's not the time for analysis," he said. "In the dressing room I thought that this is the end for me with the national team, it's not for me.

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"That's the way I feel right now, it's a huge sadness once again and I missed the penalty that was so important.

"I tried so hard to be champion with Argentina. But it didn't happen. I couldn't do it."

Messi has played in three Copa America finals in 2007, 2015 and 2016 and the 2014 World Cup final, and was on the losing side every time. Argentina failed to score in all four matches.

The decision by the 29-year-old, who surpassed Gabriel Batistuta as his country's highest goalscorer last week, came as a shock to his team mates, who said they hoped his decision was not irrevocable.

Sergio Aguero, Messi's best friend on the team, said he had never seen the mood in the dressing room so low while goalkeeper Sergio Romero suggested he might rethink his decision.

"I think Leo spoke in the heat of the moment because we missed that great chance," said Romero.

Messi's retirement sparked disbelief in his homeland and sports newspaper Ole immediately launched a social media campaign, #NotevayasLeo, or Don't go Leo, to get him to stay.

He may not have been the only player to exit the national squad, with later unconfirmed reports that midfielder Javier Mascherano had also retired from the international game.

Messi has won every trophy possible at club level with Barcelona, though his only titles with Argentina were the Under-20 World Cup and the 2008 Olympics.

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Famous young Lionel Messi fan forced to flee country over threats
QUETTA, PAKISTAN - MAY 03: Murtaza Ahmedi, a five year old Afghan boy who wears a jersey signed by Messi, plays with a ball in Quetta of Balochistan province, a South-Western city in Pakistan on May 3, 2016. A boy from Ghazni province of Afghanistan became famous on social media in the world after wearing a plastic bag shirt resembling the uniform of international football star Lionel Messi. Messi had also expressed his wish to meet Murtaza Ahmedi. Parents of Murtaza Ahmedi moved him to Quetta from Afghanistan hence they worried about kidnapping, Mr. Wahid Ahmedi, a relative of the boy said. They also appealed to football federations and both Afghanistan and Pakistan government for making arrangements of meeting between Lionel Messi and Murtaza Ahmedi. (Photo by Mazhar Chandio/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
QUETTA, PAKISTAN - MAY 03: Murtaza Ahmedi, a five year old Afghan boy who wears a jersey signed by Messi, poses as he holds another jersey from Messi in Quetta of Balochistan province, a South-Western city in Pakistan on May 3, 2016. A boy from Ghazni province of Afghanistan became famous on social media in the world after wearing a plastic bag shirt resembling the uniform of international football star Lionel Messi. Messi had also expressed his wish to meet Murtaza Ahmedi. Parents of Murtaza Ahmedi moved him to Quetta from Afghanistan hence they worried about kidnapping, Mr. Wahid Ahmedi, a relative of the boy said. They also appealed to football federations and both Afghanistan and Pakistan government for making arrangements of meeting between Lionel Messi and Murtaza Ahmedi. (Photo by Mazhar Chandio/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
QUETTA, PAKISTAN - MAY 03: Murtaza Ahmedi, a five year old Afghan boy who wears a jersey signed by Messi, plays with a ball in Quetta of Balochistan province, a South-Western city in Pakistan on May 3, 2016. A boy from Ghazni province of Afghanistan became famous on social media in the world after wearing a plastic bag shirt resembling the uniform of international football star Lionel Messi. Messi had also expressed his wish to meet Murtaza Ahmedi. Parents of Murtaza Ahmedi moved him to Quetta from Afghanistan hence they worried about kidnapping, Mr. Wahid Ahmedi, a relative of the boy said. They also appealed to football federations and both Afghanistan and Pakistan government for making arrangements of meeting between Lionel Messi and Murtaza Ahmedi. (Photo by Mazhar Chandio/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
QUETTA, PAKISTAN - MAY 03: Murtaza Ahmedi, a five year old Afghan boy who wears a jersey signed by Messi, poses as he holds his plastic bag uniform in Quetta of Balochistan province, a South-Western city in Pakistan on May 3, 2016. A boy from Ghazni province of Afghanistan became famous on social media in the world after wearing a plastic bag shirt resembling the uniform of international football star Lionel Messi. Messi had also expressed his wish to meet Murtaza Ahmedi. Parents of Murtaza Ahmedi moved him to Quetta from Afghanistan hence they worried about kidnapping, Mr. Wahid Ahmedi, a relative of the boy said. They also appealed to football federations and both Afghanistan and Pakistan government for making arrangements of meeting between Lionel Messi and Murtaza Ahmedi. (Photo by Mazhar Chandio/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
QUETTA, PAKISTAN - MAY 03: Murtaza Ahmedi, a five year old Afghan boy who wears a jersey signed by Messi, poses in Quetta of Balochistan province, a South-Western city in Pakistan on May 3, 2016. A boy from Ghazni province of Afghanistan became famous on social media in the world after wearing a plastic bag shirt resembling the uniform of international football star Lionel Messi. Messi had also expressed his wish to meet Murtaza Ahmedi. Parents of Murtaza Ahmedi moved him to Quetta from Afghanistan hence they worried about kidnapping, Mr. Wahid Ahmedi, a relative of the boy said. They also appealed to football federations and both Afghanistan and Pakistan government for making arrangements of meeting between Lionel Messi and Murtaza Ahmedi. (Photo by Mazhar Chandio/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Afghan father Mohammad Arif Ahmadi holds his son Murtaza, 5, and a fan of football player Lionel Messi, as he speaks during an interview with AFP in Pakistan's southwestern city of Quetta on May 3, 2016. The young Afghan boy who captivated hearts after he was pictured wearing a plastic bag as an improvised Lionel Messi jersey has appealed to the UN refugee agency after fleeing Afghanistan. Murtaza Ahmadi became an Internet sensation in January after his older brother posted the picture on Facebook, with the Argentine superstar sending autographed jerseys to his tiny fan via UNICEF. / AFP / BANARAS KHAN (Photo credit should read BANARAS KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)
QUETTA, PAKISTAN - MAY 03: Murtaza Ahmedi, a five year old Afghan boy who wears a jersey signed by Messi, plays with a ball in Quetta of Balochistan province, a South-Western city in Pakistan on May 3, 2016. A boy from Ghazni province of Afghanistan became famous on social media in the world after wearing a plastic bag shirt resembling the uniform of international football star Lionel Messi. Messi had also expressed his wish to meet Murtaza Ahmedi. Parents of Murtaza Ahmedi moved him to Quetta from Afghanistan hence they worried about kidnapping, Mr. Wahid Ahmedi, a relative of the boy said. They also appealed to football federations and both Afghanistan and Pakistan government for making arrangements of meeting between Lionel Messi and Murtaza Ahmedi. (Photo by Mazhar Chandio/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
QUETTA, PAKISTAN - MAY 03: Murtaza Ahmedi, a five year old Afghan boy who wears a jersey signed by Messi, poses as he holds another jersey from Messi in Quetta of Balochistan province, a South-Western city in Pakistan on May 3, 2016. A boy from Ghazni province of Afghanistan became famous on social media in the world after wearing a plastic bag shirt resembling the uniform of international football star Lionel Messi. Messi had also expressed his wish to meet Murtaza Ahmedi. Parents of Murtaza Ahmedi moved him to Quetta from Afghanistan hence they worried about kidnapping, Mr. Wahid Ahmedi, a relative of the boy said. They also appealed to football federations and both Afghanistan and Pakistan government for making arrangements of meeting between Lionel Messi and Murtaza Ahmedi. (Photo by Mazhar Chandio/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Five year-old Murtaza Ahmedi, an Afghan Lionel Messi fan, wears a shirt signed by Barcelona star Lionel Messi as he plays with a football at his relatives' home in Quetta, Pakistan, May 3, 2016. REUTERS/Naseer Ahmed
QUETTA, PAKISTAN - MAY 03: Murtaza Ahmedi, a five year old Afghan boy who wears a jersey signed by Messi, poses with a ball in Quetta of Balochistan province, a South-Western city in Pakistan on May 3, 2016. A boy from Ghazni province of Afghanistan became famous on social media in the world after wearing a plastic bag shirt resembling the uniform of international football star Lionel Messi. Messi had also expressed his wish to meet Murtaza Ahmedi. Parents of Murtaza Ahmedi moved him to Quetta from Afghanistan hence they worried about kidnapping, Mr. Wahid Ahmedi, a relative of the boy said. They also appealed to football federations and both Afghanistan and Pakistan government for making arrangements of meeting between Lionel Messi and Murtaza Ahmedi. (Photo by Mazhar Chandio/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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Those club successes led Juan Antonio Pizzi, the Argentine coach of Chile, to praise Messi's influence on the game at the post-match media conference, even though at the time he was unaware of his compatriot's decision.

"I believe that Messi is the best player in history," Pizzi said.

"Maybe for my generation, we're not able to compare him to (Diego) Maradona because of what Maradona did for Argentine football.

"But I do think he is the best player in history and I think the numbers are irrefutable."

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