Maradona: Messi has to stay

Maradona exults looking at Messi during a match (Representative image.) Photograph:( Getty )

AFP Buenos Aires, Argentina Jun 28, 2016, 10.33 AM (IST)
Argentinian football legend Diego Armando Maradona urged Lionel Messi not to follow through on his vow to quit the national team after its defeat in the Copa America Centenario.

"Messi has to stay in the national team. He has to stay because he still has playing days ahead of him," Maradona was quoted as saying by the Argentinian online newspaper La Nacion.

"He will go to Russia in form to be world champion" at the 2018 World Cup, he added.

Messi, 29, told reporters in the US he had decided to quit after Argentina's defeat on penalties to Chile on Sunday.

He is widely rated as the best player in the world, but it was his fourth defeat in an international final with the Argentinian jersey.

The 1986 World Cup winner Maradona, 55, blamed Argentina's recent lack of trophies on the Argentina Footbal Association.

He accused them of not supporting Messi and letting him take the blame for Sunday's defeat to cover up their shortcomings in managing the sport.

"The lads have to be supported more to help him take the team forward," Maradona was quoted saying. "Those who are saying he should quit are doing it so that we won't see what a disaster Argentinian football has become," he added.