Lionel Messi has made a U-turn on his decision to retire from Argentina’s international squad in less than two months.
Messi, five time Ballon D’Or winner, quit after Argentina’s Copa America final defeat by Chile in June. He missed a penalty in the shootout, and was forced to endure the South American nation’s third major final defeat in three consecutive years.
His decision had made all of Argentina, including local legend Diego Mardona, to beg Messi reconsider his decision.
Maradona himself had been critical of Messi’s previous performances for Argentina, claiming that his younger compatriot “was no leader”.
Now, in a statement reported by media in the country, the Barcelona forward said he decided to go back on his word for “love of the country” and “to help from within”.
“A lot of things went through my mind on the night of the final and I gave serious thought to quitting, but my love for my country and this shirt is too great,” Messi reportedly said.
“We need to fix many things in Argentinian football, but I prefer to do this from inside and not criticise from outside.”
Messi is now named in new coach Edgardo Bauza’s World Cup qualifying squad alongside Sergio Aguero, Marcos Rojo and his Barca teammate Javier Mascherano.