It seems like so long ago, when we thought we’d said our final goodbye to Lionel Messi’s international career. Try to think back to those times: Messi, still then a brunette, had just suffered another heartbreaking loss with Argentina when they lost on penalties in that year’s Copa América, England had voted their way out of the EU, and a crazed former reality TV star was perilously close to becoming the leader of the free world.
With the sands of time finally healing or at least burying that old Copa América wound, and with his faith in the direction of humanity presumably restored in the current, markedly different geo-political climate, Messi has today announced that he will return to international play. ESPN FC has translated portions of his official statement:
“I see that there are a lot of problems in Argentina football and I don’t want to create more,” Messi, who was included in the Albiceleste’s 18-man squad to face Uruguay and Venezuela, said in a statement on Friday. “I don’t want to cause harm, on the contrary, my goal was to help in any way I could.”
“There are many things that need to be fixed in Argentine football. But I prefer to help from inside rather than stand on the outside and criticise,” the statement continued.
“A lot of things ran through my head on the day of the [Copa America] final. And I seriously considered leaving the team. But I love my shirt and my country too much.
“I want to thank all the fans who wanted me to keep playing for Argentina. I hope we can give them joy very soon.”
He might look rusty after all that time away from his compatriots—though a cursory glance at the international fixtures list appears to show that he didn’t actually miss out on a single game with the Albiceleste, which must be wrong—but we’re sure that this older yet in some ways newer Messi will recapture the glory of his halcyon days in no time.