Soccer legend Lionel Messi reveals intentions for international career ahead of Copa América final

Regardless of what happens in Argentina’s Copa América final match on Sunday, it will not be the last time Lionel Messi represents his country.

After Argentina defeated Canada 2-0 in the semifinal on Tuesday night, the eight-time Ballon d’OR winner addressed the recent questions surrounding his future on the national team. 

“As I’ve said before, I intend to continue,” Messi vowed outside the locker room at MetLife Stadium. “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.”

When Messi does eventually retire from international play, it won’t be the first time he has done so. After missing a penalty kick in a shootout loss against Chile in the 2016 Copa América final, he retired.

He came out of retirement just weeks later, and has since scored 54 goals in 73 international appearances, including the goal he scored in Argentina’s victory over Canada on Tuesday.

Messi has scored 109 goals during international play, including 14 in Copa América games. That number is just three shy of the tournament record.

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Ángel Di María embraces Lionel Messi and Rodrigo De Paul after goal

While Messi does not intend to hang the cleats up just yet, teammate Ángel Di María does intend to retire after Sunday’s final.

“It’s my last battle. There’s nothing left to say that I haven’t said a lot of times before,” the veteran forward 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 María made his international debut in 2008 and has scored 31 goals in 144 appearances.

While Di María seems intent on retiring, Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni is hoping the 36-year-old has a change of heart.

Ángel Di María acknowledges crowd

“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.”

Argentina is seeking to continue its dominant run of international play. They won the 2022 World Cup, and with a win on Sunday, they would become back-to-back Copa América champions.

Argentina will take on the winner of Uruguay and Colombia, which is set for Wednesday night.  

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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