On Sunday evening, just before 9 o’clock, the best football player of his period, and maybe the greatest of all time, stepped on a temporary platform in his brand-new home stadium. This moment was historic. He gave bear hugs to the owners of his new club, who included David Beckham, a former star for the franchise. Lionel Messi beamed as he gazed up at the cheering audience and the pyrotechnics as he carried his brand-new jersey, which had the number 10 in pink.
It may have seemed like a dream that Lionel Messi, who won the World Cup in December as Argentina’s captain and who has won seven Ballon d’Or awards as the best player in the world, chose Inter Miami of the Major League Soccer to be his team for the twilight of his career; however, the event in which he was unveiled to the public served as evidence that, yes, this has actually taken place.
Messi, who is 36 years old, addressed the Inter Miami supporters who screamed his surname throughout the night at DRV PNK Stadium, which is around 30 miles north of downtown Miami. Messi talked directly to the fans for two minutes. The introduction given by Messi was referred to as La PresentaSon, which is the presentation in Spanish but with the word “Si” (meaning “Yes”) emphasised throughout. And as is customary for South Florida, it was raining during the whole event.
Messi passed rejected the opportunity to play for a club in Saudi Arabia, where he would have made a huge amount of money, and instead choose to play in Miami, where he already owns property. In addition, he turned down the opportunity to play for Barcelona again, where he made his professional debut at the age of 13, went on to win every major title, and planned to continue playing before making the move to Paris Saint-Germain in 2021.
Before Messi’s time in France came to an abrupt end this summer, the owners of Inter Miami had been daydreaming about signing him to play for their team in South Florida for a very long time. The game that took place on Sunday, as well as the weeks preceding up to it, demonstrated how big of a boost Messi has already given to the club, the area, and soccer in the United States.
Rain had stopped falling by the time Lionel Messi took the stage, but earlier celebrations were hampered by a heavy deluge that swamped sections of this temporary stadium. (In the year 2025, Inter Miami is planning to relocate to a potential new stadium located close to Miami International Airport.) Although the 19,000-seat stadium could not compare in size or intensity to Camp Nou in Barcelona or Parc des Princes in Paris, the majority of supporters wore club or Messi clothing on Sunday. A large banner with Messi wearing an Argentina jersey was being hoisted by a supporter who was not wearing his shirt. The shirt worn by Lionel Messi of Barcelona was seen on a few supporters, while Argentina shirts were the second most popular choice of attire overall.
The celebration, which was televised internationally in English and Spanish on Apple TV, Major League Soccer’s first-year streaming partner, with a few problems, was timed on purpose to coincide with the halftime of the Concacaf Gold Cup final, which Mexico won over Panama by a score of 1-0.
Before Messi took the microphone, both Mas and Beckham addressed the audience. Beckham, an Englishman who is famed for having joined with the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer in 2007, read his prepared statements on his mobile while sprinkling in some Spanish. Throughout the length of his talk, Mas spoke in both English and Arabic. After all, Miami is considered by many to be the unofficial capital of Latin America, and Argentines make up the greatest population in Florida of any state in the United States.
Before Lionel Messi took the stage, David Beckham presented the club’s second high-profile acquisition of the summer in the shape of Sergio Busquets, who had been Messi’s colleague at Barcelona. Busquets also talked, albeit for a far shorter period of time. Messi owned the night, flaws and all, despite the fact that they existed.
Messi, who is not renowned for being a talkative person, was clear and straightforward on Sunday. Messi expressed his gratitude to the ownership group of the club for allowing him and his family to feel at home there while wearing a white Inter Miami T-shirt and pants. He expressed his hope that the supporters will continue to follow the squad and develop together with them.
After Messi had finished speaking, the microphone was passed on to the next person, and a film was then shown on the large screen. In the video, a number of famous people, including Manu Ginóbili, a former basketball player for Argentina, and Gloria and Emilio Estefan, residents of Miami, greeted Messi and wished him well. After that, Messi’s family and the owners’ families joined the group onstage for photographs. After that, there were musical acts.
After the match was over, Messi took some time to meet and greet his supporters by signing autographs. On Tuesday, he will participate in his first formal practise with the rest of the squad, and on Friday, he will play in his first game. This is his new place to reside.