Football News

How Spain tried, and failed, to get Lionel Messi to play for their national team

By James Richards

Published: 16:46, 2 May 2019

Former Spain head coach Vincente del Bosque has revealed that the Spanish Football Federation did everything they could to persuade Messi to play for Spain but failed due to the player’s love for his country.

Messi arrived at Barcelona in 2001 when he was still just 14 and was eligible to play for both Spain and Argentina but opted to go with the country of his birth.

He has enjoyed a glowing career since moving to Barça and reached another landmark on Wednesday when he netted goal number 600 for his club. The Argentinian scored twice in the 3-0 Champions League semi-final victory over Liverpool, one of which was a superb free-kick.

There is no doubt that Spain would have loved call upon a player of such quality for their national team and maybe Messi would have enjoyed more success with the country of his adopted home.

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He has lost three Copa America finals and the 2014 World Cup Final with Argentina while Spain have won the World Cup once and two European Championship crowns.

Despite their best efforts, though, the Royal Spanish Football Federation could not persuade Messi to change allegiance as Del Bosque explains.

“The Federation made every effort to get Messi to play for Spain,” he told Radio Villa Trinidad, via AS. “Lionel refused because he loves his country. His arrival would have been for the best.

“Messi is Messi – there is only one. It would have been a dream to coach him.”

Messi has netted an incredible 48 goals this season as Barca look to win the treble. They have already secured the La Liga title and will be the favourites to win the Copa del Rey final which they play later this month against Valencia.

Following the win on Wednesday, they will also be favourites to win the Champions League, taking a 3-0 lead into the second leg before facing either Ajax or Tottenham at the Wanda Metropolitano in the final on 01 June.