Diego Maradona said Lionel Messi (above) should be allowed to enjoy his vacation © Getty Images
Diego Maradona said Lionel Messi (above) should be allowed to enjoy his vacation © Getty Images

Johannesburg: Legendary footballer Diego Maradona has called on his countrymen to leave Lionel Messi alone after the star player announced his international retirement following their loss to Chile in the Copa America Centenario final. Maradona, who had earlier asked Messi to stay with the national squad, said the Barcelona talisman should be allowed to enjoy his vacation before adding that “if Messi says ‘I don’t want more,’ we will have to present another team”, Sport24 reported. The soccer legend, who led Argentina to World Cup glory in 1986, also slammed people who criticised Messi for missing his shot as Chile won the penalty shootout to retain the Copa America title.

Following the 4-2 loss on penalties, a visibly distraught Messi said that it hurts not to be a champion despite reaching four finals before adding that “the national team is over for me.” Despite winning eight La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues with Barcelona, Messi’s only major international honour is Olympic gold at the 2008 Games. Apart from losing three Copa America finals (2007, 2015, 2016), Messi’s Argentina were also beaten by Germany in the 2014 World Cup final.