Football legend, Diego Maradona has urged Argentina captain Lionel Messi to rescind his international football resignation statement despite their Copa America final defeat to Chile.
In what was a tense match where both sides played out a goalless draw in normal time, extra-time followed a similar pattern of play to send the teams into a dreaded penalty shootout.
Messi missed the first penalty in the 4-2 shootout defeat, which was the third consecutive loss in a major final for La Albiceleste.
Apart from the humiliation of being beaten on penalties for a second time by their neighbours, they were gutted at the news of what online wags were calling “LeoMexit" – Messi’s announced retirement from international service.
Following this, Maradona has added his voice to fans and football lovers around the world who are championing that the 29-year-old star striker to unhang his boots.
Maradona has asked of the five-time Ballon d’Or winner to retract his decision and play on until the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
“Messi has to stay in the national team. He will go to Russia in form to be world champion,” Maradona was quoted as saying by La Nacion newspaper online.
“He has to rely more on boys who can help take the team forward and less on those who say they have to go.
“Those who are saying he should quit are doing it so that we won’t see what a disaster Argentine football has become.”
Maybe Messi will don the sky blue and white again, perhaps leading Argentina to World Cup glory in 2018, maybe he won’t, but for the moment, though, it appears his decision to retire is final.
The world certainly hopes it isn’t.
By: Derrick Amo Offei