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Rediff.com  » Sports » The highs and lows of Lionel Messi's Argentina career

The highs and lows of Lionel Messi's Argentina career

Last updated on: June 28, 2016 06:09 IST

Argentina's star player Lionel Messi on Monday announced his retirement from international football after missing a penalty in the team’s 2-4 defeat against Chile in the Copa America Centenario final at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.

Following Messi’s retirement from international football, Rediff.com lists the highs and lows from the player’s Argentina career...

LOWS

Argentina's Lionel Messi reacts after missing his penalty kick against Chile during the Copa America Centenario final

IMAGE: Argentina's Lionel Messi reacts after missing his penalty kick during the Copa America Centenario final against Chile. Photograph: Mike Stobe/Getty Images

2016 Copa America Centenario: In Argentina's 4-2 loss to Chile on penalties in the Copa America final on Sunday, June 26, Lionel Messi failed to score from the 'spot' in the shoot-out, extending Argentina's trophy drought to 23 years.

A five-time World Player of the Year, he missed Argentina's opening penalty in the shoot-out after the scores were 0-0 even after extra-time. He was in tears while sitting in the team dugout during the presentation ceremony.

http://im.rediff.com/sports/2015/jul/05argentina1.jpg Argentina's Lionel Messi walks with his silver medal past the Copa America trophy

IMAGE: Argentina's Lionel Messi walks with his silver medal past the Copa America trophy. Photograph: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters

2015 Copa America: Playing in his second Copa America final for Argentina in Chile against the host nation in 2015, Messi was an uninspired avatar of his otherwise focused self.

With Messi uninspired and Alexis Sanchez faltering, the teams attempted just 19 shots between them -- less than all but one of the Copa America finals contested since 1993.

Higuain came closest to breaking the stalemate for Argentina in the last minute of regulation time. Messi sent Ezequiel Lavezzi through on the left and he crossed to Higuain at the far post but the striker could only put the ball in the side netting.

Sanchez had one great chance to steal the game for Chile in extra-time but blazed over with just the goalkeeper to beat. The match was forced into a penalty shoot-out and that proved unfortunate for Argentina and Messi.

Argentina's head coach Diego Maradona watches on as Lionel Messi goes through the grind at a team training session in Pretoria on June 6, 2010 

IMAGE: Argentina's head coach Diego Maradona watches as Lionel Messi goes through the grind at a team training session during the FIFA World Cup in Pretoria on June 6, 2010. Photograph: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

2010 World Cup: He wore the captain’s armband for the first time and had the legendary Diego Maradona shouting instructions from the dugout in the coach’s capacity.

Argentina and Messi struggled through the tournament – Messi failed to score – they managed to reach the quarters. But a 4-0 drubbing by Germany put them out of the competition.

Messi struggled to find his best form at the tournament in South Africa and that reflected on the team's patchy performance.

2005 Argentina debut: It was not the most memorable of national team debuts for the 18-year-old Messi.

Playing his first game for the senior side in a friendly against Hungary he was sent off less than a minute after coming on as a substitute for elbowing an opponent who had pulled his shirt.

He was sent off after 65 minutes by German referee Markus Merk for catching young defender Vilmos Vanczak with a flailing arm. The team recorded a 1-2 away win but it was a huge embarrassment for the prodigy.

Messi never received a red card in his international career ever since.

HIGHS

Argentinian forward Lionel Messi kisses his gold medal as he leaves the pitch after attending the men's Olympic football tournament medal ceremony at the national stadium in Beijing during the 2008 Beijing Olympic games on August 23, 2008

IMAGE: Argentinian forward Lionel Messi kisses his gold medal as he leaves the pitch after attending the men's Olympic football tournament medal ceremony at the National stadium in Beijing during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games on August 23, 2008. Photograph: Getty Images

Led Argentina to the 2008 Olympic gold: Lionel Messi’s participation at the 2008 Olympics was in doubt because Barcelona had refused to release him. But after striking a late deal with the club, the Argentine forward came up with inspired performances to take his team through.

Messi scored twice in the tournament -- against Ivory Coast in the group stage and The Netherlands in the quarter-finals.

Argentina beat Nigeria 1-0 to win gold at the Olympics. Messi proved the pivotal influence -- his sharp assist engineered a goal from Angel di Maria for a gold-medal finish.

Image: Lionel Messi of Argentina celebrates with teammates after defeating the Netherlands in the 2014 FIFA World Cup

IMAGE: Image: Lionel Messi of Argentina celebrates with teammates after defeating the Netherlands in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Photograph: Clive Rose/Getty Images

2014 World Cup final: Led them to the 2014 World Cup final. He scored four goals in the tournament and won the Golden Ball award for the tournament's best player, but Argentina lost the 1-0 to Germany unfortunately.

Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring a goal against the United States

IMAGE: Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring a goal against the United States. Photograph: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Surpassed the 54-goal record set by Batistuta: Broke the goal-scoring record set by Gabriel Batistuta (54 goals) when he scored in the Albiceleste’s 4-0 win over the United States in the Copa America semi-finals on June 22, 2016.

He curled in a sensational free-kick past Brad Guzan after 32 minutes to put Argentina 2-0 ahead and score his 55th goal in Argentina colours.

"I am happy to have surpassed Batistuta's record and I want to thank my team mates, it's theirs as well," Messi had said on scripting history.
 
Under-20 World Cup title triumph: Led Argentina to the title at the 2005 World Youth Championship, scoring two penalties in a 2-1 victory over Nigeria in the final.

He won the Golden Ball and the Golden Boot for his scintillating performance after being left on the bench in the tournament opener against USA.

Rediff Sports Desk