In a sold-out Miami stadium filled with football fans and some of the most famous athletes and celebrities in the world, Lionel Messi shined the brightest, cementing his eternal legacy as the greatest of all time.
Amongst the symphony of pink that lines the stands of the sold-out DRV PNK Stadium, pockets of white and blue shone through as fans celebrated their new signing wearing Argentina shirts and sprawling tifos dedicated to football’s messianic figure in his new home. America’s most popular A-Listers – LeBron James, Kim Kardashian, Serena Williams and Victoria Beckham – all arrived hoping to witness Lionel Messi’s magical debut for his new side.
When David Beckham first conceptualised the idea of his own football club and franchise based in Miami, USA, even he couldn’t have pictured this; in a moment so beautifully written, 16 years to the day since Beckham himself made his MLS debut, Messi, football’s eternal GOAT, entered the pitch at DRV PNK Stadium to rapturous applause, with his side searching for a first win in almost two months.
WATCH Lionel Messi is unveiled as an Inter Miami player for the first time in front of 65,000 fans below.
The eyes of the world were watching Lionel Messi’s introduction to football in America, a place that’s been seemingly allergic to the biggest sport in the world for decades, as he took the pitch in Florida. Almost immediately weaving and ducking instinctively through Cruz Azul’s defence, Messi showed moments of brilliance throughout his first 35 minutes in pink, but it was only when his side needed him most, did Messi display his true qualities.
In the 94th minute, well into added time, Messi stood up to take the free-kick that would win his new team the game. Messi, without hesitation, buried it and the stadium erupted in celebration. Messi had arrived.
Lionel Messi was unveiled as an Inter Miami player for the first time this month in front of 65,000 fans, packed into the Hard Rock Stadium as the rain continued to fall. Some had waited hours for a glimpse of their new signing and screamed in unison as Messi emerged under the lights.
“I’m so happy to be here! I can’t wait to start training and competing,” said Messi in front of a sold-out crowd in the pouring rain. “I’m here to compete, to win, to help the team as I always did”.
Messi’s arrival is seen by many as a cultural turning point in Miami and even throughout America, with football stadiums selling out across the country for the LA derby, record attendances for Manchester United vs. Arsenal in a pre-season friendly, and now, as tickets for Lionel Messi’s MLS debut soar to upwards of $1300 USD (~$1930 AUD), football appears to be having its moment in America.