Century of tears than titles for Lionel Messi

Jun 20, 2015, 17:50 IST | AFP

Lionel Messi prepares for his 100th game for Argentina against Jamaica today acknowledging the fact that he is yet to win a major title

La Serena (Chile): Lionel Messi will play his 100th match for Argentina today against Jamaica in the Copa America, but it’s been a century of tears than titles.

Silverware envy has followed the little genius wherever he goes at the tournament in Chile, where he will also celebrate his 28th birthday next week. “I’m very happy to reach this record. Hopefully, I can celebrate another victory and once and for all lift a cup,” the Barcelona striker said in an interview published on Thursday by Argentinian daily La Nacion.

Argentina captain Lionel Messi after losing the 2014 World Cup final to Germany. Pic/AFP

Messi, Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez and the rest of the Argentina squad have been sent across the Andes on a mission to end 22 years without a major title since the country won the Copa America in 1993.

His extraordinary debut against Hungary on August 17, 2005 set the scene for an international career in total contrast to his success as a Barcelona player which has seen him win four world player of the year awards, four Champions League titles, seven Spanish league titles and three Copas del Rey.

The 18-year-old Messi came on as a second-half substitute against Hungary and a minute later was marching off again after getting a red card for elbowing defender Vilmos Vanczak. Teammates went into the dressing room at the end and found Messi crying in a corner, Argentinian media reported at the time.

Since then, his 99 games for Argentina have produced 46 goals. It is an impressive return, but pales in comparison to his record of 412 goals in 482 games for Barcelona.

Messi won the U-20 World Cup (2005) and a gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He earns $70 million (approx) a year, but there’s no Copa America or World Cup to his name. He was in the Argentina team beaten by Brazil in the 2007 Copa America final and by Uruguay in the quarter-finals of the 2011 edition.

At the World Cup, he scored on debut (2006) against Serbia & Montenegro before Argentina lost to Germany on penalties in the quarter-finals. In 2010, Argentina lost in the quarters again to Germany. Last year, Messi scored four goals as Argentina made the World Cup final, only to see Germany’s Mario Goetze score a 113th-minute winner.

Messi can be the most brilliant player, waltz around defenders, but cannot overtake Diego Maradona as Argentina’s football legend until he wins a major trophy with them. The 99 games have been “an amazing experience” but “unfortunately without a title,” he said.

Messi's Barca vs Argentina tally

Number of goals Messi has scored for Argentina from 99 matches

Number of goals Messi has scored for Barcelona from 482 matches

Number of titles Messi has won with Argentina (U-20 World Cup in 2005 & Beijing Olympics gold)

Number of titles Messi has won with Barcelona (four Champions League titles, seven Spanish League crowns & three Copa del Rey trophies)

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