Lionel Messi has spoken of his anguish at losing the Copa America final after the player, widely acknowledged as the world’s finest, came under fire in his native Argentina.
Messi posted a statement on his Facebook account late Monday having concealed his disappointment at losing another major final following a 4-1 penalty shootout defeat to hosts Chile on Saturday.
“There’s nothing more painful in football than losing a final,” Messi said.
“But I don’t want to leave it any longer to say thank you to everyone who has always supported us and continued to during the tough moments.”
Messi has now lost one World Cup and two Copa America finals and at the age of 28 is without a major international success.
Messi was so upset he reportedly turned down the player of the tournament trophy.
The Barcelona forward and the other Argentine players were criticised by the country’s media for their performance in the final.
The editor of Argentine site Ole said Messi should be stripped of the captaincy after an ‘unworthy’ performance.
Some observers have warned that Messi could walk away from the national side.
“One day this boy is going to get tired and will not want to come to play for the team,” former Argentine international Matias Almeyda, now coach of the Banfield club, told Fox Sports television.
“He’s the best player in the world and he is not treated in the way he deserves,” Almeyda added.
Messi had a stellar season with the treble-winning Barcelona side, but Almeyda said “it is very difficult (for Argentine players) to repeat for the national team what they do for their clubs.”