FC Barcelona star player Lionel Messi has revealed that he was given the chance to play for Spain – and turned it down. In his book, entitled ‘Messi, The Patriot’, the player says: “I was asked informally if I wanted to play for Spain, but I always said that I wanted to play for my national team because I love Argentina and these are the only colours I want to wear.”
And the player, who has earned 83 caps for the Albiceleste, has also revealed that he has been ‘hurt’ in the past by criticism over his commitment to playing for home-country Argentina.
Critics have argued that Messi, who played in the 2006 and 2010 World Cup finals, shows less enthusiasm when playing for Argentina than he does when playing for other teams.
The player told Marca: “I took all the comments: that I showed no desire to play for the national team, that I didn’t sing the anthem, that I’ve no feeling for the shirt. It hurt to have so many unfairly attack me.
“Argentina is my country, my family, my way of expressing myself. I would change all my personal records to make the people in my country happy.”
Messi maintains that he had no qualms over choosing to represent his home country rather than adopted country Spain.
Messi was offered the chance to play for La Roja at Under-20 level at the beginning of his Barcelona career when he was at the La Masia academy – but chose not to switch nationalities.
“There were informal contacts to see if I wanted to play for Spain, but I always said I wanted to play for my own team because I love Argentina and I only feel these colours,” he added.
“I will always be where the team needs me. Aside from the bad moments, I’m grateful for everything the national team has allowed me to live.”