Bengaluru, June 27: 2014, Rio de Janeiro, 2015, Santiago, 2016, East Rutherford, all these three venues proved detrimental for Lionel Andres Messi as Argentina lost back to back three major tournament finals, FIFA World Cup, Copa America and Copa America Centenario respectively. In 2014 it was Germany who lifted the World Cup and in 2015 and 2016 it was Chile who came in between the trophy and Lionel Messi, one of the greatest footballers the world has ever seen.
Time and again the Argentine superstar has been criticised for not performing in the Albiceleste colours as Messi has won just one Olympics gold medal in the international arena. Several critics have often labeled him as a club player who has only achieved for his club FC Barcelona. Be it 5 Ballon d'Ors or showing his impeccable magic on the pitch fans around the world have been used to watch Lionel Messi in the Maroon and Blue stripes.
After repetitive failures with Argentina, Messi finally decided to retire from international football today (June 27), immediately after losing the Copa America Centenario final against Chile. As the little maestro hangs his pair of boots we decided to make a list of top 5 best moments of Messi's international career.
1. Debut international goal Vs Croatia (2006)
After a nightmare debut where Lionel Messi was sent-off within 2 minutes of his arrival on the pitch, the prodigal Argentine made a strong comeback to the national side and bagged his debut goal on 1st March 2016 against Croatia in friendly game.
2. Olympics Gold medal (2008)
Messi made it to Sergio Batista's 23-man Beijing Olympics 2008 squad after a lot of turmoil. Barcelona had barred Messi from representing the country but only after the then manager Pep Guardiola intervened things were sorted and Messi joined the Argentine squad. Well, thanks Guardiola, Messi could win the Olympic gold medal defeating Nigeria in the final, which ultimately proved to be his only glory in Albiceleste colours.
3. Receiving the captain's armband at the age of 24 (2011)
After a dreadful four years from 2008-2011, Argentina finally looked for resurgence as Alejandro Sabella took charges of the national team from Sergio Batista. The first thing Sabella did was handing over the captain's armband to the team's best player Lionel Messi from veteran Javier Mascherano. Messi took over as the captain of Argentina at the tender age of 24. This was definitely one his highlighting moments of his international career.
4. First international hat-trick against Switzerland (2012)
Messi might have scored numerous hat-tricks for his club FC Barcelona, but it took 7 years to get his debut international hat-trick which came against Switzerland in 2012.
5. Winning the Golden Ball in the FIFA World Cup (2014)
Messi would definitely like to forget Argentina's campaign at the 2014 FIFA World Cup where they finished second behind Germany. Germany defeated Argentina 1-0 after Mario Gotze netted a late winner for the Germans. Messi was devastated with the defeat but he was awarded with Golden Ball, best player of the tournament.
6. Messi became top scorer for Argentina overtaking Batistuta (2016)
The only memorable event from this year's Copa America Centenario tournament for Lionel Messi was becoming Argentina's all time highest goalscorer overtaking legendary Argentine forward Gabriel Batistuta.