Lionel Messi has decided to come out of international retirement, and has confirmed that he will play for Argentina again.
Messi gave up on international football, after Argentina lost a third straight major final in a row, when Chile beat them in a penalty shoot-out in the Copa America 2016 final.
Argentina made it to the previous Copa America final as well, but faced defeat at the hands of the same opponents. They then lost to Germany in the final of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The disappointment proved too much to bear for the maestro, and he announced his international retirement immediately, after the final against Chile.
His retirement was met with riots by plenty of fans against the Argentina Football Association. They held strikes and wrote petitions, begging Messi to reconsider his decision. The 28-year-old also received plenty of support after he made the initial decision to call it a day on the international scene, with even fierce rival Cristiano Ronaldo offering words of comfort.
However, he has performed a dramatic U-turn, and has decided to come out of retirement, claiming he ‘loves Argentina too much’.
He said in a statement: “‘I see there are many problems in Argentinian football and I don’t intend to create another one. I don’t want to cause any damage, I’ve always tried to do just the opposite, to help all that I can.
“We need to fix many things in Argentinian football, but I prefer to do this from inside and not criticise from outside.”
Messi was Argentina’s captain before his retirement, and should have the armband restored to him now.
After the game against Chile, the five time Balon D’or winner was seen in tears on the pitch. Speaking about that fateful night, he said:
“Many things went through my head the day of the last final and I seriously thought of leaving, but I love this country and this shirt too much.
“I’m grateful to all the people who wanted me to continue playing with Argentina, hopefully we can give them something to cheer about soon.”