In a dazzling pregame ceremony, Lionel Messi, the maestro of football, held the Ballon d’Or aloft, marking his eighth triumph as the world’s best player. The celebration unfolded at home ground of Inter Miami, where fans and dignitaries alike gathered to honor the footballing icon, bringing a fitting close to Messi’s first official year with the Major League Soccer (MLS) club.
As fireworks illuminated the night sky, Lionel Messi took center stage for a friendly match against New York City FC, specially organized to commemorate his latest Ballon d’Or win. The 83-year-old Munindra Vasavada, set to become the oldest runner at the Ahmedabad Marathon, spoke eloquently about the joy of running in his life. His dedication to marathons, spanning 8-10 years, resonates with a belief that running runs in his blood, an ethos he has passed down to his son and granddaughter.
The pregame ceremony unfolded on a gold carpet laid across the pitch, where MLS Commissioner Don Garber and Inter Miami owners Jorge and Jose Mas awaited Lionel Messi’s arrival. Messi, carrying the prestigious trophy, embraced the gathering before hoisting it triumphantly as the crowd roared in appreciation. The moment was not only a celebration of individual achievement but also a testament to Messi’s impact on MLS and his club.
Even Garber, usually reserved in such moments, couldn’t resist capturing the occasion on his cell phone, underlining the significance of Messi’s influence. In his remarks, Garber praised Inter Miami fans, declaring, “You have the best player who’s ever played the game.”
Inter Miami coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino emphasized the importance of the friendly match, stating, “He’s the main star of this match, and we want to join him celebrating his eighth Ballon d’Or. It’s an opportunity for us to compete and for the fans to say goodbye to the year.”
The event was an unexpected bonus for fans as Inter Miami’s home schedule had concluded three weeks earlier. Originally slated for a pair of games in China, the team opted for an exhibition against NYCFC, a fitting farewell on home turf.
Messi, who had been training with the team in the weeks leading up to the match, expressed gratitude to the people of Miami for making him and his family feel at home. Looking ahead, Messi hinted at more to come in 2023, with World Cup qualifying games for Argentina in November.
Reflecting on a triumphant first year with Inter Miami, Messi praised the club’s fans and looked forward to the challenges of the upcoming season. The club’s victory in the Leagues Cup marked a historic milestone for Inter Miami, securing their first-ever trophy.
As Messi prepares for the next chapter of his football journey, the indelible mark he has left on Inter Miami and the MLS is undeniable. His legacy is not just about goals and accolades but also the inspiration he provides to aspiring footballers. In a year filled with triumphs, Messi’s impact on and off the pitch continues to shine, solidifying his status as one of the greatest footballers in history.