A campaign to bring Argentine football superstar Lionel Messi back into the fold of his national team has been filtering from social media onto the streets of Buenos Aires since the Ballon D’or winner made a shock decision to quit the international stage.
The world of football has been in mourning since one of the greatest players to ever step foot on a pitch surprisingly called an end to his international career long before his time.
At just 29 years old, Messi was thought to have had a number of good playing years left to give to his country.
Hudreds of football fans gathered in Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires, on Saturday to demonstrate their appreciation for the Barcelona playmaker.
Assembling in the rain near the Obelisco de Buenos Aires, supporters reportedly cried out for Messi to remain in the squad, cheering “lead us Messiah.”
The rally for his return appears to have begun on social media, where the hashtag – #NoTeVayasLio, or “Don’t go, Lio” – featured alongside images of the “retired” international football player.
Last week, following Argentina’s defeat by Chile in the Copa America final, Messi told reporters his international career was over, saying he had “done all I can.”
Prior to the announcement, Messi had missed a crucial spot kick as his side lost in a penalty shootout.
The shock decision came as Messi, arguably the world’s greatest player, experienced heartbreak in an international final for the fourth time, having also lost in Copa America 2015, World Cup 2014, and again in 2007, when Brazil claimed South America’s top prize.
Brazilian legend Pele has joined the clamor for Messi’s return, saying that Argentina’s top goal scorer should reconsider.
“He got very upset, but maybe wait a little bit and he’ll forget because this has happened with a lot of good players,” the three time World Cup winner was quoted by Sky Sports as saying.
A lot of good players have missed penalty kicks. The last 15 years, for me, he was one of the best players in the world, and this is more important… I hope he listens to me.”