Five-time World Player of the Year Lionel Messi has hinted he could end his career by returning to his native Argentina.
Messi left his homeland at just 13 years old to join Barcelona, where he has grown into one of the greatest players of all time.
“It was always my dream (to play in Argentina) when I was a boy, though I had to leave at a very early age because of my situation and it didn’t happen,” he said in an interview published on FIFA.com days after lifting a record fifth Ballon d’Or.
“I had to go to Europe, start out with Barcelona and make my career there, but I would like to return to Argentinian football one day.”
Messi hasn’t always enjoyed the same popularity in the land of his birth as in Barcelona, having so far failed to end Argentina’s 23-year wait to win a major international tournament. Indeed, he was even reportedly spat at by River Plate fans at Tokyo airport last month after Barca’s 3-0 Club World Cup final win over the side from Buenos Aires, despite his muted celebration after scoring the opening goal.
“I know how much effort all those fans made in making that trip, how excited they were and there was me, the Argentinian, scoring the first goal and ruining it all for them.
“I don’t know if I was actually saying sorry, but it was a type of apology.”
However, having lost in the World Cup and Copa America finals in the past two years, Messi is confident of finally ending Argentina’s wait for glory at the Copa America Centenario in the United States this summer.
“We can’t say when it’s going to end and when we’ll finally win something with the national team. After everything we’ve been fighting for we deserve it.
“We’ve played quite a few finals now and not won any of them. Someday it’s bound to happen.”
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