Lionel Messi was left reflecting on another bitterly familiar failure here on Saturday after Argentina suffered an agonizing penalty shoot-out defeat to Chile in the Copa America final.
It was the second time in 12 months Messi had finished on the losing side in a major final following Argentina’s extra-time loss to Germany at the World Cup last year.
"This generation is desperate to win a title with the national team," Messi had said before this year’s Copa America.
"As a team, we deserve to win something and it would mean so much after the World Cup where we came so close."
Sunday’s defeat will reignite the debate about where Messi deserves to be ranked in the pantheon of the very greatest players to have graced the sport.
For many, his extraordinary achievements at club level with Barcelona over the past decade have already guaranteed him a place alongside Pele and Diego Maradona.
Others insist that his failure to lead his country to international glory puts him just behind Pele and Maradona, who won four World Cups between them.
Statistically at least, Messi outscores Maradona in almost every department, with 46 goals in 103 international appearances compared to Maradona’s 34 goals in 91 games.
At club level Messi has amassed 412 goals in 482 games, compared to Maradona’s 312 in 588 matches.