Lionel Messi says he will keep on playing for Argentina beyond Copa America final

Wed, Jul 10, 2024
Soccer News (AP)

Lionel Messi says he will keep on playing for Argentina beyond Copa America final

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - Lionel Messi plans to keep playing for Argentina beyond Sunday's Copa America final.

"As I've said before, I intend to continue," he said Tuesday night after Argentina's 2-0 win over Canada. "I intend to keep living day by day without thinking about what will come in the future or whether I'll continue or not. It's something I just live each day. I'm 37 years and only God knows when the end will be."

Messi scored his 109th international goal, his first in this year's tournament. It was his 14th in Copa America play, three shy of the record.

The eight-time Ballon d'Or winner spoke outside the locker room at MetLife Stadium, where he announced his retirement after missing a penalty kick in the shootout loss to Chile in the 2016 Copa America final. He reversed his decision seven weeks later and has scored 54 goals in 73 international appearances since, raising his matches for Argentina to 186 as he helped win the 2021 Copa America and 2022 World Cup.

Teammate Angel Di Maria does intend to retire after Sunday's game against Uruguay or Colombia at Miami Gardens, Florida. The 36-year-old Di Maria made his international debut in 2008 and has 31 goals in 144 appearances,

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"It's my last battle. There's nothing left to say that I haven't said a lot of times before," Di Maria explained. "It's my last game. I have to say thank you to all Argentineans and to this generation that has allowed me to lift so many trophies."

Di Maria joined with Messi to lead Argentina to it's third World Cup and 15th Copa America title.

"We've enjoyed him so much," Messi said. "He's always given his all and the best of himself and that he will retire in a final is something he simply deserves."

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni held out hope Di Maria will reverse his decision.

"We don't want to start crying right now. We don't want to feel melancholy," Scaloni said. "We have to let him play and then we'll see if we can convince him or not to stay with us."

South American World Cup qualifying resumes in September, with each national team scheduled to play 12 more matches. The 2026 World Cup final will be at MetLife, that July 19.

"We will never be the ones to close the door," Scaloni said. "He can be with our team for as long as he wants to be. And if he wants to retire but still come and hang around, it would be great. And if he wants to come with me to somewhere else, I will take him everywhere so he can decide whatever he wants to do."

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AP Copa America coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/copa-america

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