Kingston Peel, 11, and his 9-year-old brother, Wynn, were in for a surprise at their home in the Bahamas. Their mother announced that they would be flying to South Florida to witness superstar Lionel Messi’s Major League Soccer debut with Inter Miami.
Anticipation filled the air as Kingston and Wynn excitedly exclaimed, “We’re here to see Messi!” They arrived at DRV PNK Stadium several hours before the match between Inter Miami and Mexican club Cruz Azul in the Leagues Cup. Despite Messi not being in the starting lineup for the game, fans from all over, including Ecuador and Messi’s native Argentina, flocked to the stadium, donning black-and-pink Inter Miami jerseys with Messi’s iconic No. 10 on the back, as well as his Argentina jersey.
The atmosphere outside the stadium was electric, with fans queuing for team merchandise and eagerly waiting for a chance to have their Messi flags and jerseys captured in a photo booth. Among the notable spectators was Kim Kardashian, who arrived with one of her children sporting Messi’s Inter Miami jersey. Basketball star LeBron James and other sports celebrities were also in attendance, fully aware that they couldn’t miss the opportunity to witness the next chapter of Messi’s illustrious career.
The excitement was palpable, as season ticket holder Christian Zinn, accompanied by his son Oliver, expressed, “It’s insane. We normally come a half hour before the game, and it’s like this. Not two hours before the game. We knew it was going to be crazy.”
After months of speculation, Messi finally signed a 2 1/2-year contract with Inter Miami, culminating in a grand introduction that drew tens of thousands of eager fans. The online video of the event was viewed a staggering 3.5 billion times, according to Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham. Beckham, an English football legend who made his own mark in MLS in 2007, believes Messi’s move has set a new standard for soccer in the United States.
Reflecting on Messi’s arrival, Miami native Carlos Fierro, a lifelong fan, likened it to the impact of LeBron James joining the Miami Heat in 2010. Fierro anticipated a vibrant and energetic atmosphere, stating, “It’s going to be very different because Messi’s that type of player. He’s going to bring the party. We saw it in the presentation how loud it got. I’m expecting everything to be loud and fun. Just typical Miami style.”
In conclusion, Lionel Messi’s debut game with Inter Miami was a highly anticipated event that attracted fans from around the world. Despite Messi not starting, the excitement surrounding his presence was undeniable. With his arrival, Messi has elevated the standing of soccer in the United States, leaving an indelible mark on the sport and captivating fans with his exceptional talent.