The so-called retirement of Lionel Messi did not last very long. Messi has announced he will return to Argentina’s national team next month as World Cup qualifiers get underway.
Messi’s “retirement” was more of a political statement about the way the sport was being governed in the country of Argentina, with the nation flirting with receiving some heavy punishment from FIFA over government interference. In a statement release Friday, Messi said he does not want to make things worse for Argentina than he could potnetially by staying away from the game on an international level.
“I see that there are a lot of problems in Argentina football and I don’t want to create more,” Messi said. “I don’t want to cause harm, on the contrary, my goal was to help in any way I could.”
Messi is considered by most the best soccer player in the world, and at age 29 still should have many good years in front of him. His absence would certainly have not gone unnoticed and would figure to hurt Argentina’s chances of success, although the nation is coming off a third consecutive loss in the Copa America tournament (Messi missed a penalty kick in the shootout against Chile). With the state of the sport in Argentina though, Messi and a handful of other Argentinian players contemplated stepping away until things were put in proper order from a governing standpoint with FIFA’s approval. With Messi announcing his return, this could be a positive sign for things moving forward, and it is expected any other players previously mulling things over will follow Messi’s lead.
“A lot of things ran through my head on the day of the [Copa America] final,” Messi explained. “And I seriously considered leaving the team. But I love my shirt and my country too much.”
Argentina is looking to bounce back on the international stage in a big way. The nation was ousted in the group stage of the Olympic competition for the first time since 1954, has played three straight Copa America tournaments without a championship Argentina lost to Germany in the World Cup Final in 2014 in Brazil and last celebrated a World Cup title in 1986. For Messi, winning a World Cup would be the icing on the cake of his professional career.