Messi left 'hurt' by Argentina critics

The Barcelona star says he always wanted to play for the Albiceleste and admits he has been hurt by criticism over his international form in the past.
Lionel Messi admits he has been "hurt" by past criticism over his commitment towards playing for Argentina.

The Barcelona star has earned 83 senior caps for the Albiceleste and appeared at both the 2006 and 2010 World Cup finals, but has been accused in the past of showing less enthusiasm for his country than he does in club colors.

Messi, however, insists he would exchange all personal footballing records for the chance of a major honor with Argentina and admits he has been affected by some critics in his homeland.

"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 come from my country and many unfairly attacked me," he told Marca.

"Argentina is my country, my family, my way of expressing myself. I would change all my record to make the people in my country happy."

Messi went on to explain that he has no qualms over choosing to represent his country of birth rather than Spain, which offered him the chance to turn out at Under-20 level at the beginning of his Barcelona career.

"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 colors," 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."