Lionel Messi announced his retirement from international football in the early hours of Monday morning, in the wake of a penalty shootout defeat against Chile in the final of the Copa America.
The Argentine superstar – who only turned 29 on Friday – wept openly after the defeat, which came as he missed his own spot kick. It was yet another brutal disappointment for Argentina, who have now lost three finals in three years (2014 World Cup, 2015 and 2016 Copa America).
Argentina haven’t won the World Cup or Copa America in over 20 years, with their 1993 Copa triumph the last victory. And with their greatest player – arguably their greatest-ever player – now walking away, it seems that wait may well continue.
It brings to an end an international career that began as inauspiciously as it ended: with a red card just 30 seconds after he came on as a sub in a friendly against Hungary in Budapest on 17 August 2015.
As you’ll have seen from the picture at the top of this page, that is exactly 10 years, 10 months and 10 days ago – a fact picked up on by the @ Twitter account (we added the 10 days bit ourselves on the basis that Messi’s career kicked off in Europe – Budapest, specifically – and finished at 5am BST on 27th June rather than on the 26th. A nice explanation for a nice round number).
Fans and pundits were quick to pay tribute to the great man – and lament the end of his era.
Given the circumstances, not everybody was too impressed with Messi…
Inevitably, some claimed that we have yet to see the last of Messi in an Argentina shirt. And while the tone of these posts isn’t always nice, we can’t help hoping that what they predict comes to pass…