The Sunday night in US ended in a disaster for Argentina as their football team lost a third final in three years and have now failed to win any international competition since 1993. But if that was less their best player perhaps the best of all time, the best that this world has ever seen Lionel Messi announced his retirement from International football.
While there were reports that he might reconsider and that his decision could be in the heat of the moment but the news of prolific striker Sergio Aguero and a host of other players contemplating on their future of playing for Argentina has made matters a lot more serious.
Why the decision
Lionel Messi has been anything but spectacular for his club Barcelona and has managed to achieve every possible prize that is on offer in the club tournament both for himself and the club.
There has hardly been a year where Barcelona has had to face a trophy drought which is sharp in contrast with his national side.
For three years in a row they have come second best. They first lost in the World Cup Finals in Brazil in 2014, then they lost to Chile last year in the Copa America and again this year in the centenary year of the Copa America Messi was provided the brilliant opportunity to go down in the history books as winner but he came short again Chile won on penalties and what made it worse was Messi himself was off target in the shoot out. He took the first penalty and fired it over the cross bar.Emotions, frustration seems to have got the better of him and he called it off. He quit with an unfilled dream of guiding his team to international glory.
He may be the best player but he has always been under tremendous scrutiny day in day out, his critics latch on to any opportunity possible to go after him to question his commitment, his professionalism and even his legendary status.
He was hailed as the game changer at a young age of 19 and when he was benched in the knockout match in the world Cup of 2006 there was wide criticism against the coach and staff, he proved his worth and helped his side win Gold at the Beijing Olympics of 2008 which till date remains his only glory at the international level. Since then he has been in the eye of storm. As his career reached greater heights at club level people expected him to replicate the same at national level but having failed to do so draw massive criticisms on lacks his commitment towards the national team and of him choosing club over country. The constant question after he won another trophy or another accolade with Barcelona was ” So what has he done for the Country”. The 2010 World cup debacle only strengthened it, however it was the decline of Argentina as a team during that phase and not because of Messi but he was held responsible another change of management at the team and now a team solely centered around Messi playing a 4-3-3 formation came up and was successful Messi at the age of 24 was made the captain.
And he gave everything he could to shut the critics but he came short on not one but three occasions. And he did this despite of all the issues that are going on in the Argentina’s football Association, which at best is poor and crooked in the way it functions. Lack of success, wide spread criticism, a poorly managed Football association was a time bombing ticking and Messi did take to social media criticizing the AFA for the delay in flight before the final. The writing was on the ball and the loss and him missing out on the penalty just added to it and he called it a day.
And you could see it in his eyes when he missed the penalty, his face said a million things he held his eyes wiped a tear or two covered his face, looked at the ground, stretched his tshirt, utter disbelief and came back to stand with his teammates with a gaze on his face of a miss, a miss that would haunt him and his worst fears turned true when Claudio Bravo his teammate from Barcelona stopped a shot from Bigila and Silva won it for Chile 4-2 on aggregate.
As he sat on the subs bench alone you could feel it for the man, a legend, hailed as the best player in the world but even he cannot achieve anything such is the tragedy of life. And that remorse that missing achievement will remain forever now.
What we must realize
Messi is one of those rarest breeds of players who come to the field only once in a life time. We as fans do expect a lot out of them but at the end of the day we must realize that they are humans too and no person representing his country will want to lose, we should not question his professionalism had he wanted he would have played for Spain in the international but he chose Argentina and has made them the no 1 ranked team in the world even if they did not manage to win a competition.
The AFA must realize that players like Messi needs to be kept wrapped in a blanket, they can take a leaf out of how Barcelona handles him. It not like he throws tantrums but it is only but natural that a player of his talent will have certain basic expectations. The AFA is there as a facilitator for players and teams to help them perform well and achieve success if you cannot even do the basics right and are indulging in corruption and infighting sooner or later the players will revolt.
The critics and the media must set some boundary and must not go over board after a player just to sell news. He is a public figure and deserves criticism but at the same time he is a human and has some personal space by going after him on the corruption charges, on his commitment, his professionalism or comparing him with other individuals you may end up doing a lot more harm to a player, caution needs to be implemented.
One only hopes that Messi does change his mind and come back on the international stage to grace the football fans world over and in his own country. No football fan even those who do not like him would want to see him end his career like this he deserves much more. And also no matter if he wins anything or not he is and will be the best player that this world has ever seen we must feel blessed that we have been born in this era.