Lionel Messi felt embarrassed after backtracking on his international retirement to return to play for Argentina this World Cup qualifying campaign.
Messi quit Argentina duty after his country’s heartbreaking penalty shootout loss to Chile in the 2016 Copa America final, during which he missed his spot-kick.
The final was the fourth time Messi had missed out on international glory at the last hurdle after Argentina lost in the 2007 and 2015 Copa America finals and the 2014 World Cup final.
But following talks with then-coach Edgardo Bauza, Messi reversed his decision to retire and was named in the squad for Argentina’s first pair of World Cup qualifiers.
And Messi admits he felt ashamed about returning to the international fold but said that his Argentina team-mates made the process a lot easier.
”It was a decision I made in the heat of the moment, but I was embarrassed to say I wanted to come back,’ Messi told DIRECTV Sports via FourFourTwo. ‘El Paton [Edgardo Bauza] and my team-mates made everything easier for me to return’.
Messi returned to play a pivotal role for Argentina during a testing World Cup qualification campaign which saw Bauza replaced by Jorge Sampaoli.
The Barcelona star scored a stunning hat-trick in Argentina’s final South American qualifying clash in a 3-1 win over Ecuador which sealed their spot in Russia.
And Messi says he appreciates playing for his country in a different way after returning for a second spell with Argentina.
‘At 30 years old, I enjoy it in a different way and much more than before,’ Messi added. ‘I take advantage of every moment, both on and off the pitch.
‘I am experiencing this moment with the national team in a different way. I am more relaxed today. When they criticise me, I experience it differently.’