Lionel Messi was found “crying like a kid who had lost his mother” after enduring Copa America final heartache with Argentina in 2016.
Despite enjoying considerable success at club level with Barcelona, while also collecting five Ballons d’Or, the 31-year-old forward is still waiting on a first senior international honour.
He has come agonisingly close to breaking that duck on a number of occasions, but his dreams have always been dashed in the most gut-wrenching of fashions.
After seeing Mario Gotze’s extra-time winner settle the 2014 World Cup final, Messi would then endure penalty shoot-out defeats to Chile in successive years at the Copa America.
A modern-day icon failed from the spot in the most recent of those setbacks, leading to him being left inconsolable.
Former Argentina and Barcelona fitness coach Elvio Paolorosso told Jogo Bonito of the fallout from a painful defeat: “The dressing room after the Copa America was very painful, but the worst was to come.
“At two in the morning, more or less, I went to the store room and found Leo completely alone, crying like a kid who had lost his mother.
“He was distraught and nobody could console him. I gave him a hug and we had a little whine together.
“I had Messi with Barcelona and Argentina, and all I have for him are words of gratitude. He always cooperated well and even noticed if the pitch was hard or soft.”
Messi announced his international retirement after failing to help Argentina past Chile, with that decision leaving those in his homeland stunned.
He was eventually talked round and helped to guide the Albiceleste to the 2018 World Cup.
More international suffering was to come on Russian soil, though, with eventual champions France sending Argentina crashing out at the last-16 stage.
Messi is now mulling over his options once more, with a period of rest having been granted to him during the recent break which saw fellow star turns head away with their respective countries.
No decision has been taken on whether he will return to the fold, but interim Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni has vowed to keep the No. 10 jersey waiting for him.
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