Lionel Messi has launched an impassioned defence against recent criticism, telling doubters to ‘go f**k themselves’.
Despite winning 25 trophies during his 11-year stint in the Barcelona first team, as well as a veritable bucketload of individual honours, Messi has often been criticised for his performances for Argentina.
Messi, appointed Argentina captain in 2011, has won only Olympic Gold with the national team during his career, with runners-up medals in the 2014 World Cup, and 2007 and 2015 Copa Americas to show for his efforts.
Messi’s lack of trophies with the Albiceleste has often been used as a means to criticise him and downplay his excellence, and the 28-year-old has delivered a withering response to said doubters.
“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.”
Amongst the criticism levelled at the Barcelona forward is the fact that he does not sing the Argentinean national anthem at the start of fixtures, while his workrate has also been questioned.
“Ever since they criticise me for not singing the anthem, I stopped singing it on purpose,” he said.
“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.”