Succour has come for Barcelona star, Lionel Messi from the most unexpected quarters – Diego Maradona – after his (Messi’s) shock retirement on Monday morning.
Maradona, who is arguably Messi’s number one critic, has urged the Argentina captain not to retire from international football despite the Copa America final defeat to Chile in the early hours of Monday.
Barcelona forward, Messi was devastated after the game, in which he missed the first penalty in the 4-2 shootout defeat, which was the third consecutive loss in a major final for La Albiceleste, and made known his intention to quit international football.
Maradona, who had, prior to the Copa America Centenario, said that Messi lacked the personality to lead his country, has now pleaded with 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 telling La Nacion.
“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.”
Maradona also slammed the Argentina Football Association (AFA), just like Messi’s outburst before the final, when he blamed the country’s football governing body for poor planning which included a delayed flight at the Houston airport.
“I am very sorry and very angry with what is happening to Argentine football,” Maradona added. “We hit bottom, we reached the bottom.”