Lionel Messi, the world-renowned soccer star who recently joined Inter Miami CF, was honored with the key to the city of Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday, August 30, 2023. The ceremony took place before the team’s match against Nashville SC at DRV PNK Stadium.
A Warm Welcome for Messi and Inter Miami
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis presented the key to Messi and Inter Miami owner Jorge Mas, along with former soccer legend and co-owner David Beckham. Trantalis praised the team and Messi for their contribution to the city’s economy, culture, and diversity.
“Lionel Messi and Inter Miami CF’s contribution to our great City will make a significant impact on our neighbors, businesses and economy. We are already experiencing the dynamic and positive outcomes and are so proud to be the team’s host city at DRV PNK Stadium where locals and visitors can come experience the beauty and diversity of Fort Lauderdale,” Trantalis said in a news release prior to the event.
Messi, who is widely regarded as one of the best players of all time, expressed his gratitude for the warm welcome and said he was excited to play in Fort Lauderdale. He also thanked his fans for their support and said he hoped to bring joy and success to Inter Miami.
“I am very happy to be here in Fort Lauderdale and to receive this honor from the mayor. I want to thank Jorge Mas, David Beckham, and everyone at Inter Miami for making me feel at home. I also want to thank all the fans who have shown me so much love and respect. I am looking forward to playing in this beautiful stadium and giving my best for this team,” Messi said.
A Historic Move for Messi and Inter Miami
Messi’s move to Inter Miami was one of the most sensational transfers in soccer history. The 36-year-old Argentine left Paris Saint-Germain as a free agent after spending one season with the French club. He signed a three-year contract with Inter Miami, reportedly worth $150 million per year.
Inter Miami, which is only in its third season in Major League Soccer (MLS), made a bold statement by signing Messi, who has won six Ballon d’Or awards, four Champions League titles, and 10 La Liga titles with his former club Barcelona. Messi is also the all-time leading scorer for both Barcelona and Argentina’s national team.
Inter Miami co-owner Jorge Mas said he was thrilled to have Messi on board and said he was confident that he would help the team achieve its goals.
“Lionel Messi is a once-in-a-lifetime player and a global icon. We are honored and proud to have him as part of our family. He is not only a great player, but also a great person, a leader, and a role model. He shares our vision and ambition to make Inter Miami a world-class club and a force in MLS. We are excited to see him on the field and to witness his magic,” Mas said.
A Bright Future for Messi and Inter Miami
Messi made his debut for Inter Miami on July 21, 2023, in the Leagues Cup, a tournament between MLS and Mexican clubs. He scored 10 goals in seven games in that competition and helped Inter Miami reach the final, where they lost to Cruz Azul on penalties.
Messi also led Inter Miami to the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup, where they beat MLS-leading Cincinnati FC in a thrilling 4-3 victory. Messi scored two goals and assisted another in that game.
Messi’s next challenge is to help Inter Miami climb up the MLS standings, where they currently sit in ninth place in the Eastern Conference. They have nine games left in the regular season, starting with Wednesday’s match against Nashville SC.
Messi said he was confident that Inter Miami could improve its performance and qualify for the playoffs.
“We have a good team with a lot of quality players. We have been working hard to improve our game and our results. We know we have a lot of potential and we can do better. We have to keep fighting until the end and try to reach the playoffs. That is our main objective,” Messi said.