Messi has 'no doubt' that Inter Miami will win more titles in the new year

The iconic Argentinian's 8th Ballon d'Or trophy celebrated by Major League Soccer club n dramatic style with an exhibition match

By Agencies

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Lionel Messi of Inter Miami CF  during the Ballon d'Or trophy presentation at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. - AFP
Lionel Messi of Inter Miami CF during the Ballon d'Or trophy presentation at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. - AFP

Published: Sat 11 Nov 2023, 4:08 PM

Last updated: Sat 11 Nov 2023, 4:24 PM

Lionel Messi promised that the next year would be ‘a lot better’ and that Inter Miami were going to ‘continue winning titles,’ after he celebrated winning an eighth Ballon D'Or.

As fireworks lit up the sky to bring a pregame ceremony to a close, Inter Miami got to celebrate the game's greatest player one more time in 2023. Messi was on the field for his Major League Soccer club on Friday night for a friendly against New York City FC, a match put together to commemorate his eighth time winning the Ballon D'Or, presented annually to the game's top player.

Messi, carrying the trophy in his left hand, walked to midfield on a gold carpet laid out across the pitch, where MLS Commissioner Don Garber was among those awaiting his arrival for a brief pregame ceremony. He embraced Garber, Inter Miami owners Jorge and Jose Mas, then hoisted the trophy as the crowd roared.

“To me, it is something beautiful to share with you,” Messi said. “I’ve only been here a little while but it really feels like I’ve been here a long time.

“I want to thank all the people of Miami, not only the ones here at the stadium but in the city in general, for the way you have treated not only me but my family these last few months,” Messi said. “You’ve shown me a lot of love and made me feel at home.

“As I said at the beginning, I did not doubt that we were going to have a good time, that we were going to enjoy it,” Messi said. “And today I have no doubt ... that next year is going to be a lot better. We are going to continue enjoying. We are going to continue winning titles.”

Garber pulled out his cell phone to take a picture of the moment and commented: “You, Inter Miami fans, have the best player who's ever played the game.

“The winner of his eighth Ballon D'Or, the guy who lifted as captain the Leagues Cup for your team, thank you, Leo, for your belief in Major League Soccer and making your club and your league a league of choice.”

The game was almost irrelevant: NYCFC prevailed 2-1, and Messi had a 25-yard free kick that could have tied the game in stoppage time but it sailed high, and the final whistle blew moments later.

It was a perfect bookend to Messi's first four months officially as part of the club: Year 1 started with an on-field party and ended with another celebration with a look ahead to Year 2.

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“He’s the main star of this match and we want to join him celebrating his eighth Ballon D’Or,” Inter Miami coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino said.

“It’s an opportunity also for us to compete. Even if it’s a friendly it’s an opportunity for the people and the fans to see Leo and his teammates on the field and say goodbye to the year.”


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