Argentina great Mario Kempes said he expects Lionel Messi to reverse his decision to retire from international football.
Messi shocked the world of football after quitting the Argentina national team following their 4-2 penalty shoot-out loss to Chile in the Copa America Centenario final on Sunday.
The defeat was the third Messi and Co. had suffered in a major tournament final in the last three years, after also going down to Chile in the 2015 Copa decider and Germany in the 2014 World Cup final – while the Barcelona star was also on the losing side in the 2007 Copa final against Brazil.
Messi claimed the national team was not for him in the wake of another loss, but Kempes – who won the 1978 World Cup with Argentina – believes it was only said in the heat of the moment.
“Argentina did not have a bad tournament, but yes they did play badly in the final,” the 61-year-old told Cadena Cope.
“We have made four finals and things are not bad. I hope in Russia [at the 2018 World Cup] a lot of the same players are there. They deserve to retire with a triumph.
“Messi will come back to the national team, it was just a blow up. He will reflect and will make the World Cup in Russia with a good age.
He added: “The people have realised that Messi is just a human. With tears, people have realised he is not a martian.
“But if he does not continue, a new stage for the national team will begin. We have to form a good squad. But the world has not ended because Argentina have lost four finals.”