Despite the rain during his parade, Lionel Messi made a grand entrance at Inter Miami’s opening event on Sunday, being warmly received by fans and hailed by the club’s owner as “America’s number 10.”
Though the 20,000-capacity Miami stadium was nearly packed, the festival was delayed despite a severe storm that hit just before it was due to begin.
Fans sought shelter or waited in their cars as tropical rain drenched the venue. Finally, after a two-hour delay, “The Unveil” began amid wet but enthusiastic supporters chanting Messi’s name as the stadium lights went down.
The ceremony began with co-owner David Beckham expressing his delight and describing Messi’s arrival as a “dream come true”. Beckham, whose move to MLS with the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2007 was the league’s previous successful move, said: “Lionel, we are very proud that you have chosen our club for the next stage of your career.”
What did Messi say?
However, the crowd erupted in joy as Beckham warmly welcomed Messi in Spanish. Jorge Mas, the majority owner of Inter Miami, took the stage and further wowed the crowd with his bilingual address. The Cuban-American businessman considered the event a gift to the city that had welcomed his family.
Although Mas embraced the rain, declaring: “We do this in the rain tonight. This is holy water. This is our moment to change the football landscape in this country.” He introduced Messi as “your new number 10, America’s number 10.” Expressing his gratitude, Messi took the microphone and thanked the fans.
He shared: “Thank you all so much for supporting me and giving me all this love. I’m so happy to be in Miami.” “I want to start training, competing. I also have the same desire to win and help the club grow. Choosing to play in this city with my family, choosing this project, I have no doubt about it.” I will enjoy it immensely, and great things will happen.”
Inter Miami, currently in last place in Major League Soccer, confirmed on Saturday that Messi, a seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, has signed a deal to stay with the club until 2025.
Therefore, the Argentine superstar chose Miami after his contract with Paris Saint-Germain expired last month. Messi’s former Barcelona teammate and Spanish midfielder Sergio Busquets was also introduced to the crowd after finalizing his transfer.
However, fans can look forward to a potential Messi debut for the club on Friday against Mexico’s Cruz Azul in the new tournament featuring teams from MLS and Liga MX. Inter Miami’s new Argentine coach Gerardo Martino asked for patience as the team looks to the future with hope.
“We look to the future with the hope that the best player in the world will play in our team, but at the same time, we have to be patient so that he is in good physical condition and plays at the right time,” Martino said of Messi. Accepting the enthusiasm for the arrival, he explained himself.
While the stadium currently serves as Inter Miami’s temporary home, the club has plans for its purpose-built stadium, Freedom Park, in Miami, which is expected to open in 2025.