Simply earlier than 9 p.m. on Sunday, the best footballer of his period, and maybe the best footballer of all time, walked throughout a makeshift stage at his new house stadium. He hugged the house owners of his new workforce, together with former star David Beckham. Holding his new jersey – pink quantity 10 – Lionel Messi grinned and appeared on the crowd and fireworks.
If it appeared like a dream that Messi, who received the World Cup in December as captain of Argentina and received seven Ballons d’Or as the most effective participant on the earth, selected Inter Miami from MLS as his workforce on the finish of his profession, his discovery was proof that sure, it actually occurred.
“Initially, I need to thank Miami for this welcome and kindness since I arrived within the metropolis,” Messi mentioned in Spanish in his first public feedback since about his monumental deal, which is able to final till the MLS season. 2025, was introduced on the positioning. Saturday. “Truthfully, I am very excited and really pleased to be right here in Miami and be with you.”
For 2 minutes, the 36-year-old Messi spoke on to Inter Miami followers, who chanted his identify all evening at DRV PNK Stadium, about 30 miles north of downtown Miami. Messi’s efficiency was referred to as La PresentaSíon, a presentation in Spanish however with an emphasis on “Sí” (“Sure”). And in typical South Florida trend, it occurred within the rain.
Selecting Miami, the place he already has actual property, Messi turned down the possibility to play in Saudi Arabia, the place the workforce provided him considerably extra money. He additionally turned down the chance to return to Barcelona, the place he signed at 13, received each main trophy and wished to remain till a transfer to Paris St. Louis. Germaine in 2021.
Lengthy earlier than Messi’s time in France unceremoniously got here to an finish this summer time, Inter Miami’s house owners dreamed of transferring him to South Florida. Sunday’s occasion and the weeks main as much as it confirmed the push Messi has already given to the franchise, the area and soccer in america.
“There’ll at all times be Lionel Messi earlier than and after,” mentioned Jorge Mas, the Cuban-American billionaire and managing proprietor of Inter Miami, who performed his first season in 2020.
“We’re the beneficiaries of the legacy of the best participant on the earth who began at Newell’s Outdated Boys, moved to Barcelona and ended up at PSG,” Mas continued, itemizing Messi’s earlier groups, together with his youth workforce in Argentina. “However immediately it’s within the arms of Inter Miami and its followers. That is our second. Our second is to vary the soccer panorama on this nation.”
The rain had subsided by the point Messi spoke, however a torrential downpour prevented the celebrations from beginning and flooded components of this makeshift stadium. (“Inter Miami” hopes to maneuver to a proposed new stadium close to Miami Worldwide Airport in 2025.) On Sunday, the 19,000-seat stadium actually didn’t have the scale and vitality of Barcelona’s Camp Nou or the Parc des Princes. in Paris, however a lot of the followers wore workforce or Messi garments. One shirtless fan was waving an enormous flag depicting Messi in an Argentine jersey. Argentina jerseys have been the second hottest clothes selection, with a number of followers sporting Messi’s Barcelona jersey.
The celebration, which was broadcast worldwide in English and Spanish on Apple TV, MLS’s first streaming associate, with a number of glitches, intentionally coincided with the halftime of the Concacacaf Gold Cup closing, during which Mexico received 1-0 over Panama.
Earlier than Messi addressed the group, Mas and Beckham spoke. Beckham, an Englishman who famously signed with MLS’s Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007, learn his ready feedback from his cellphone, including a contact of Spanish. Mas used each languages for his whole efficiency. Miami is, in spite of everything, the unofficial capital of Latin America, and Florida has the biggest Argentine group in america.
“I do know the individuals of South Florida will take you all into their hearts,” Beckham mentioned. “We’re constructing a really particular membership right here at Inter Miami, a membership that represents this particular place and its individuals.”
Earlier than Messi arrived, Beckham launched the workforce’s second main signing this summer time, Sergio Busquets, Messi’s former teammate at Barcelona. Busquets additionally spoke, however briefly. The evening, imperfect and all, belonged to Messi.
Messi, not recognized for his talkativeness, was transient on Sunday. Wearing a white Inter Miami jersey and denims, Messi thanked the workforce’s proprietor group for making him and his household really feel welcome. He mentioned he hopes the followers will proceed to observe and develop with the workforce.
“I’ve a terrific need to start out coaching and compete,” mentioned Messi, who joined the last-place workforce within the MLS Japanese Convention. “I got here with the need to at all times compete and need to win.”
Messi additionally thanked his teammates, a number of of whom have been on the pitch.
“I’m very pleased that I made a decision to come back to this metropolis with my household and selected this undertaking,” he mentioned. “I’ve little question that we are going to take pleasure in it, we could have a very good time and great issues will occur.”
After Messi handed over the microphone, a video was broadcast on the massive display screen during which many celebrities, akin to former Argentinean basketball star Manu Ginóbili and Miami residents Gloria and Emilio Estefan, welcomed Messi to town and wished him good luck. The Messi households and house owners then joined them on stage for photographs. Musical numbers adopted.
After that, Messi signed autographs for the followers within the stands. Tuesday is his first official apply with teammates, and Friday is his first sport. That is his new house.