Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has hit out of critics of the Argentina national team, saying they can “go f**k” themselves.
One of the criticisms of the argument that Messi is potentially the best player of all time is that he has never won a major international tournament.
Argentina finished as runners-up in the 2014 World Cup and were also beaten in the Copa America finals of 2007 and 2015, with the Messi – who has captained the side since 2011 – coming in for particular criticism.
“I get annoyed when they tell us ‘put in more effort, you don’t feel the shirt’,” he told tycsports.com.
“We were lucky enough to get to the final of the World Cup and the Copa America and it’s as though we didn’t do anything. We got to two finals, for f**k’s sake
“We didn’t win, what can you do, but we got to the final, we didn’t lose in the round of 16. I still hear criticism from the national team. I say ‘go f**k yourself’. We got to the final and didn’t lose in the quarters.
“I get bothered by the Argentines that criticise. Football is not just about having balls.
“We had bad times in the national team for what we experienced. We lost the final of the World Cup against Germany, who have great players, and we had great chances to win it. With Chile it was the same and we lost on penalties.”
The 28-year-old has also been lambasted for not singing the Argentinian national anthem, but Messi says he now refuses to do so deliberately.
“Ever since they criticise me for not singing the anthem, I stopped singing it on purpose,” he added.
“The anthem thing is ridiculous. I never cared about it. Ever since they criticised me, I stopped singing it. I get annoyed by the people who attack you without thinking. I won’t sing the national anthem on purpose. I don’t need to sing it to feel it.
“It reaches me, every person feels it in their own way. The [national Argentinian rugby team] Pumas cry, they feel it differently and that’s OK. Football is not just about effort,” he added, on criticisms over his dedication.
“There is no need to run all the time. Everyone knows what they need to do and I wait for my moment.”