Maradona begs Messi not to retire from Argentina national team

by
Reuters

How quickly things change.

Just one week after telling Lionel Messi and his Argentina teammates to not bother coming home if they fail to deliver the Copa America title, Diego Maradona has publicly asked the Barcelona man not to retire from the national team picture.

His pleas come after Argentina lost its second consecutive Copa America final in a penalty shootout to Chile. After the match, Messi expressed his desire to potentially step away from the international game.

Maradona, who also didn't shy away from criticizing Messi's leadership qualities prior to the tournament's conclusion, now says Messi is an integral part to Argentina's 2018 FIFA World Cup campaign in Russia.

"Messi must carry on in the national team," Maradona told Argentine outlet La Nacion, according to The Guardian. "He still has a lot to give, because he'll get to Russia with chances of being world champion.

"He has to lean more on the lads who can help him take the team forward and less on those who say he should leave," Maradona said. "Messi was abandoned and I don't want to abandon him. That's why I want to talk to him, to fight against all those who abandoned him."

Despite making a few questionable comments about him, Messi has only ever responded to Maradona with respect, stating that while he hasn't spoken to Maradona since the 2010 World Cup, he does maintain "a great relationship with him."