MLS

‘The best player to ever don boots’: Lionel Messi unveiled to Inter Miami’s fans

By Sports Desk July 16, 2023

Lionel Messi has been introduced to Inter Miami’s fans during a special event hosted at the MLS club’s DRV Pink Stadium.

During the ceremony, which was dubbed The Unveil and broadcast live, the 36-year-old Argentina superstar greeted Inter Miami owner David Beckham with a hug before receiving his pink No 10 jersey.

Messi told the crowd: “I want to thank all the people of Miami for their welcome and love since I arrived in this city.

“The truth is that I’m very excited and very happy to be here in Miami and to be with you.

“I can’t wait to start training and competing. I’m here with the desire I’ve always had to compete, to want to win, and to help the club continue to grow.”

The stadium was practically full, despite the event being delayed by poor weather.

Beckham said during the broadcast that it made for a “typical Miami welcome for one of the greatest players to ever have played the game”.

He added: “The fact that we have our fans in here, celebrating this moment… this is what we have created and we’re very proud of that.”

Joining Messi onstage was former Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets, whose arrival at Inter Miami was officially announced earlier on Sunday.

Busquets, 35, who had spent his entire playing career at the Nou Camp, left Barca at the end of the season and will be reunited with former team-mate Messi, whose own move to Miami was confirmed 24 hours earlier.

Speaking during The Unveil event, Inter Miami’s primary owner Jorge Mas called Messi “the best player to ever don boots”.

He said: “When David and I first met and we dreamt of what Inter Miami represents, it started off with the freedom to dream.

“And we dreamed of not only bringing elite players and the best players but the best player to ever don boots — and his name is Lionel Andres Messi.”

Messi revealed last month he had decided to join the Florida side as his contract with Paris St Germain came to an end.

With the deal now officially done, Messi is in line to make his debut for his new employers on Friday against Mexico’s Cruz Azul in the Leagues Cup.

Seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi arrives after a season in which he helped his country to World Cup glory in Qatar, as well as PSG to the Ligue 1 title, as in his first campaign with them in 2021-22.

That adds to an already huge trophy haul on his CV that features four Champions League successes from his years with Barcelona, for whom he scored a staggering total of 672 goals.

Joining Miami sees Messi – who has also netted more than 100 international goals – reunite with boss Gerardo Martino, who he previously worked under with Barca and Argentina.

Martino was appointed in June after the club sacked Beckham’s ex-Manchester United team-mate Phil Neville.

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