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Messi Postcard: He is spending 37th birthday in familiar place with painful memories

The birthday wishes for Lionel Messi started pouring in from social media accounts in Nepal and Bangladesh on Sunday, where it was already June 24. By Monday morning, the Argentine Inter Miami star was being feted by David Beckham, FC Barcelona, Andres Iniesta, and Michelob Ultra, to name a few.

Monday night, Messi and a few teammates looked down from a New Jersey hotel balcony as the Argentine soccer federation shared slices of a giant blue and white birthday cake with hundreds of fans who had waited for hours outside the hotel for a chance to catch a glimpse of their hero.

Messi spent his 37th birthday working in East Rutherford, New Jersey, where the Argentine national team is preparing for its highly anticipated Copa America game against Chile on Tuesday night at MetLife Stadium (9 p.m., FS1).

It is a familiar place for him to be on his birthday week. Eight years ago, three days after his 29th birthday, Messi announced his retirement from Argentina’s national team after missing a penalty shot in the Copa America final loss against Chile at MetLife Stadium.

It was an excruciating time for Messi. He said then: “The national team is not for me. I have decided to end everything here.”

He eventually changed his mind and wound up leading his team to Copa America and World Cup titles.

This time around, hopes are high around the Argentina camp. They won their Copa opener 2-0 against Canada and Chile tied Peru 0-0 it its first game.

“Of course we’ll plan something for him. We’ll give him something. He’s our captain,” said midfielder Rodrigo De Paul of Messi’s birthday. “He has celebrated many birthdays with us. We’ll want him to enjoy it.”

The Argentine team had its final pre-game training session scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday. At the very same time, thousands of Argentine fans took over Times Square for a massive “banderazo,” a flag-filled pep rally during which Messi’s legion of followers sang him Happy Birthday in Spanish.

Asked after the Canada game to share his birthday wishes, Messi replied: “Nah, nothing. I’m just happy to be here one more time, enjoying being on the national team one more time in an official competition and try to do our best, like we always do.”