The World’s top footballer, Argentinian, Lionel Messi is now, officially, an Inter Miami player.
The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner as the world’s best player checked in for the first time for his new Major League Soccer club last night. He went on early in the second half of Inter Miami’s game against Cruz Azul in the Leagues Cup tournament at Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
He hugged the player he replaced, midfielder, Benjamin Cremaschi , then trotted onto the field as the estimated crowd of 21,000 all seemed to be standing, almost all of them with phones out to chronicle the moment.
Inter Miami was leading 1-0 when Messi went on with his team leading 1-0. Nobody even left their seats when the halftime whistle blew because Messi was on the field. During half time, he warmed up for about 5 minutes with the other reserves before they all left for the locker room.
That’s when the fans, finally, could put their phones down and take a breath. Messi resumed warmups while the second half was getting underway, jogging around behind the end line near Inter Miami’s supporter section, and fans roared in delight when he gave them a wave.
The first Inter Miami goal of the Messi era was scored by Robert Taylor, who took a long cross from Robbie Robinson, moved into the box, and sent a low drive off the inside of the far post and into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead late in the first half. Messi scored with a perfect free kick in the 94th minute to win the match for Inter Miami.
Now 36, Messi joined Inter Miami after playing for two years for French Club, Paris St-Germain. His contract with inter Mimi is for two and a half seasons, and he will earn between US$50 million and US$60 million annually.