Despite a heavy rainstorm, Lionel Messi was introduced to his new Inter Miami fans and hailed as “America’s number 10” by the club’s owner during a damp but celebratory unveiling event on Sunday.
Despite the downpour, Miami’s 20,000-capacity stadium was almost complete as fans eagerly awaited the arrival of the Argentine World Cup winner.
Due to the tropical downpour, the event was delayed by about two hours. However, fans remained enthusiastic and chanted Messi’s name as the venue’s lights dimmed.
David Beckham, co-owner of the club, expressed his delight at Messi joining Inter Miami, calling it a “dream come true.” He welcomed Messi to the club’s family in Spanish, which was met with loud cheers from the crowd.
Jorge Mas, the majority owner of Inter Miami, delivered a bilingual speech and referred to the rain as “holy water.” He declared the event as a moment to change the football landscape in the country and introduced Messi as “Your new number 10, America’s number 10.”
Messi arrived in Miami earlier in the week with his family and expressed his gratitude to the supporters and his excitement about joining the club. He emphasized his desire to train, compete, and help the club grow.
Inter Miami, currently at the bottom of Major League Soccer, confirmed Messi’s signing until 2025. The former Barcelona star chose Miami after his contract with Paris Saint-Germain expired. After completing his move, Spanish midfielder Sergio Busquets, Messi’s former Barcelona teammate, was also presented to the crowd.
Don Garber, the Major League Soccer commissioner, praised Mas for his relentless pursuit of Messi. Garber expressed his belief that Messi is not only a generational player but also the greatest of all time.
Messi’s debut for Inter Miami is expected to occur on Friday in a match against Mexican team Cruz Azul. However, the team’s coach, Gerardo Martino, urged patience, emphasizing the need for Messi to reach optimal physical condition before playing.
The event at DRV PNK Stadium featured performances by Latin music stars Camilo and Ozuna. While the stadium is Inter Miami’s temporary home, the club plans to build its purpose-built stadium, Freedom Park, which is set to open in 2025.