'Nothing more painful than losing final'

Lionel Messi was in no mood to accept the Player of the Tournament trophy after Argentina's defeat by Chile in the Copa America, opting to walk past it in a hurry without casting even a second look.
Lionel Messi was in no mood to accept the Player of the Tournament trophy after Argentina's defeat by Chile in the Copa America, opting to walk past it in a hurry without casting even a second look.PHOTO: REUTERS

BUENOS AIRES • Lionel Messi has spoken of the pain of losing the Copa America final after the football star and his team-mates faced criticism in his native Argentina.

He finally posted a statement on his Facebook account late on Monday, having hidden his devastation at losing another major final after the 4-1 penalty shootout defeat by Chile on Saturday.

"There's nothing more painful in football than losing a final.

"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," he said.

Messi, 28, has now lost one World Cup and two Copa America finals and still has to win a major international event despite his successes with Barcelona, including winning the Champions League last season.

Argentina, beaten 1-0 by Germany in last year's World Cup final, have now not bagged a major football title for 22 years.

Unconfirmed Spanish media reports on the Copa said that Messi did not want to accept the trophy for Player of the Tournament.

It was withdrawn before a presentation ceremony in Santiago.

Messi almost did the same last year at the World Cup in Brazil, when he was handed the Golden Ball for being the best player of the tournament, despite the demoralising defeat by Germany in the final.

"Right now, I do not care nothing, not about my prize, nothing.

"I just wanted to lift the Cup and bring it to Argentina," he said then.

Messi and his team-mates were criticised by the country's media for their Copa performance. Members of his family were also abused by Chilean fans at the match, reported Argentinian media.

Some observers have warned that Messi could opt to 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 Argentinian 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."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 08, 2015, with the headline ''Nothing more painful than losing final''. Print Edition | Subscribe