Diego Maradona On Lionel Messi's Retirement: 'Leave Him Alone'

Diego Maradona
Diego Maradona at Green Point Arena, Cape Town, July 2, 2010. Maradona has urged Argentina fans to leave Lionel Messi alone. Chris McGrath/Getty

Diego Maradona has urged Argentina fans to leave Lionel Messi alone in the wake of his decision to retire from international football.

Messi, the Argentina captain, made the announcement on Sunday following defeat to Chile on penalties in the final of the Copa America.

It was the fourth final in a major tournament that the 29-year-old has been on the wrong end of the scoreline after the 2007 and 2015 Copas, and the 2014 World Cup defeat to Germany.

Fans have pleaded with the 29-year-old to perform a u-turn on the decision, but Maradona has said the Barcelona star needs time to consider his decision.

"Messi is telling us to stop busting his balls," he said in an interview with television station La Red.

"With this Messi has told us, 'I am going on holiday, leave me alone and when you call me, I'll think about it. I don't want to talk about this anymore.' I think it's great."

Maradona, who guided Argentina to World Cup victory in 1986, believes the country needs to accept Messi's decision and move on.

He said: "Now, when I see people talk about it, I change [the channel]. That's it, it's happened. We can't go back.

"We have to construct a unified idea with Messi, but if he says no then we still have to put out a team on the pitch."