Leonel Messi revealed on Friday how he struggles to deal with criticism of his performances for Argentina's national team in an exclusive interview with a local radio station, saying that even his six-year-old son was questioning why he was judged so harshly in his home nation.
The 31-year-old's return to the national side last week after an eight-month absence was marred by a humiliating 3-1 loss to Venezuela in a friendly match. A groin strain then forced him to sit out an unconvincing 1-0 victory over Morocco.
My six year old son Thiago asked me why they were killing me in Argentina. He watches videos on YouTube all the time, and he asks me why they don't want me, Messi said. I have to go through those things. But it doesn't matter.
The Barcelona star took a break from international duty after a disappointing World Cup last year, but his highly anticipated return proved a flop as the Albiceleste lost to Venezuela in Madrid.
I want to win something with the national team, and I'll keep trying, Messi told local radio station Radio Club October 94.7. He said he would continue to play for his country even though a lot of people told me not to do it, not to suffer again.
Local fans and journalists have often taken their frustrations at under-par performances by the national team out on Messi, who is always expected to perform at the levels he does for Barcelona, where he is surrounded by star players. They also questioned his silence after being eliminated from last year's World Cup by France, something Messi said he wanted to forget.
I wanted to distance myself from the team, let time go by and cool myself. It was painful to end the cycle this way. He added, those that don't like me will have to stand me a little longer, Messi said.
Messi also hit out at repeated lies about him in the media. People buy into everything that's said. So then I'm the 'son of a bitch' and the ones that feel the hurt most of all is my family. There are many lies told. There are new lies every day