Messi: Children remind me football is not the most important thing in the world

The Barcelona star says family life helps soothe the pain of defeat, and reminds him that there are bigger priorities in life

Lionel Messi says his children have helped him learn to overcome the pain of defeat on the football pitch – because there are more important things in life.

The Barcelona icon was desperate to add a fifth Champions League title to his collection this season and was distraught at his side’s capitulation against Liverpool, before suffering further heartbreak in the Copa del Rey final against Valencia.

Messi has three sons with wife Antonella – Thiago, Mateo and Ciro – and he says that fatherhood has given him a more mature outlook on life.

“The defeats hurt but I deal with them in another way,” he told FOX Sports Argentina.

“When Thiago was born [in 2012] I understood that the priorities are different and not just the result of a game.

“It hurts a lot to lose but I get to my house and I see my children and my wife and it passes.

“Before that, I came home and I locked myself up and I did not want to watch TV and I did not eat.

“Now I have a duty to be at the table with my children. I still suffer but I handle it in another way.”

A vintage Messi performance helped put one Barcelona boot in the Champions League final against Liverpool, but he was powerless to prevent the comeback at Anfield as the Barca defence crumbled and teammates missed chances.

After a similar collapse against Roma in the same competition last season, Messi could be forgiven for thinking Barcelona were cursed.

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But after seven years of raising his children, he knows the example he has to set.

“That’s life,” he said. “You stumble but you get back up and fight for your dreams.

“Getting up, trying again, is the message for children who like to watch me.

“I want to finish my career and win something with the national team or try as many times as possible, not to be left with people who did not want me or bad comments towards me.”

A World Cup and three-time Copa America runner-up, Messi has another chance to add that elusive international title this summer as Argentina go to the Copa America in Brazil.

Argentina play their first game against Colombia on June 15, before further group games against Paraguay and Qatar.