Lionel Messi has hit back at suggestions that he misled fans when he announced his retirement from international football in June by claiming he “did not deceive anybody” despite returning to Argentina duty on Thursday night.
Messi announced his sudden retirement from international football when Argentina suffered defeat in the Copa America final, the third time that the country has lost a final in the space of three years, despite being just 29 years old.
Messi called time on his Argentina career in order to concentrate on his club career with Barcelona, but he was given the opportunity to return to the side once Edgardo Bauza took charge of the side. His rapid return proved a successful one as he scored the only goal in Argentina’s 1-0 victory over Uruguay in a 2018 World Cup qualifier, with the five-time Ballon d’Or award winner finding the back of the net just before half-time.
Speaking after the match, Messi thanked Bauza for flying to Barcelona to talk him into continuing his international career, and insisted that he had not deliberately misled anyone despite the temporary retirement.
“'I am very grateful,” Messi told Argentine TV. “But I did not deceive anybody when I retired, I felt that.
“We were very disappointed with what had happened, but after that I thought better.
“I had a conversation with the Paton [Bauza] and the people as well accompanied me through it.”
Messi also revealed that he is currently suffering from a groin injury that could rule him out of Argentina’s next qualifier against Venezuela on Wednesday, having made a point of playing through the pain barrier in an effort to put the retirement mix-up behind him.
“I don't know if I will play against Venezuela,” Messi said. “I have a lot of pain in my groin but I wanted to be here after the disturbance I caused.”
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