Tens of thousands of fans flocked to Hong Kong on Saturday to watch Lionel Messi train with his Inter Miami teammates as “Messi mania” gripped the city.
Police cordoned off streets around Hong Kong Stadium as fans gathered to keep an eye on Argentina’s superstar and the greatest player of his generation ahead of Sunday’s match. Hours before Inter Miami took to the pitch for a public training session, expectant fans lined up outside the 40,000-capacity venue chanting the name of their World Cup-winning captain.
The Major League Soccer club is co-owned by David Beckham, whose performance was met with cheers by almost the audience. But minutes later, when the 36-year-old Messi took to the field for a low-key training session with his team-mates, the ovation almost tore the roof off.
The eight-time Ballon d’Or winner spent much of the hour-long training session stretching to protect a minor hamstring injury, but spent the rest of the training camp with 80 lucky Hong Kong players. School children played football together. Not long ago, Beckham was responsible for teaching the kids some skills.
But ahead of Sunday’s friendly against Hong Kong Select, thousands of fans turned out mainly to see Messi. “This is the first time in my life that I have seen Messi,” said Li Weiji, a 17-year-old Chinese student who crossed the border from Shenzhen to the Chinese mainland. “I’m very excited. He means a lot to me. He introduced me to the world of football and made me fall in love with football. “
Most fans wear the blue and white striped Argentina jerseys or the pink Inter Miami jerseys. – ‘The best’ –
“He’s very technical and it’s a joy to watch him play,” said Sally Liu, a 28-year-old student from Hong Kong wearing a T-shirt commemorating Messi and Argentina’s victory at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
“He is currently playing in Miami, so I won’t have many chances to watch him play in the coming times.” This is my last chance.
“He’s the best ever. I cried when they became world champions. “
On Friday, hundreds of people gathered outside the team hotel in the south of the city hoping to catch a glimpse of their heroes.
A traditional junk boat sailed around the harbor, Messi’s face pressed against the sails, which were painted Inter Miami pink. Tickets for Sunday’s game sold out within an hour of going on sale in December, with sports retailers reporting Messi shirts were already sold out.
Messi has been nursing a strained hamstring during the team’s intensive tour, which will see the team play six games in 19 days before the MLS season kicks off on February 21. He only played the final minutes of Saudi Arabia’s 6-0 friendly loss to Al Nasr on Thursday night.
“We’ll evaluate each player after practice because we’ve played a lot of preseason games,” Miami head coach Geraldo Martino told reporters. “Our wish is that Leo (Messi) can play as many minutes as possible.”
Martino is also eager to get his first win on the Miami Globes preseason tour.
They first drew 0-0 with the El Salvador national team in El Salvador before losing 0-1 to Major League Soccer side FC Dallas. Miami traveled to Saudi Arabia last week and lost 4-3 to Al Hilal before suffering a heavy loss against Al Nasr.
The tour concludes on Wednesday in Japan with a friendly against Vissel Kobe.
what are some fun facts about Messi?
- Messi has kicked the ball into the net over 700 times throughout his career.
- He won the Ballon d’Or a record seven times. -Messi holds the all-time record for most goals with 91 in 2012.
- He is Barcelona and Argentina’s all-time top scorer. Messi has won 10 La Liga titles with Barcelona.
- Business Investments: In addition to football stadiums, Messi has invested in several hotels, including the hotel chain MiM Hotels.
- Debut at 17: In 2004, aged just 17, Messi made his first appearance for Barcelona’s first team.
- Shirt number: His iconic Barcelona shirt number is No.10.
- Champions League wins: Messi won the Champions League three times with Barcelona (2009, 2011 and 2015).
- Tattoo Tribute: Messi has his mother’s face tattooed on his left shoulder, a heartfelt tribute to his family.
How much would Messi make at Inter Miami?
Messi has signed a contract with Miami “Inter” for two and a half years, which will be extended until the end of 2025.
- There is also an option to extend for a further 12 months, according to reports. His base salary at Inter Miami is million, making him the highest paid player in Major League Soccer. But that’s not all—his total guaranteed damages exceed million12.
- In addition to his salary, Messi will also receive ownership of the club as part of the contract. Negotiations are underway with major brands including Apple and Adidas for advertising and image rights.
- Taking all aspects of the deal into account, including these additional components, the total value of Messi’s contract is estimated to be between $125 million and $150 million (around £100 million to £120 million), with each contract worth around $4 .1 million to $5million per million.
- Another source, Capology, pegs his annual salary at million, with a total income of 2 million over 3 years.
Who is the owner of the Inter Miami players?
- David Beckham: Famous British football icon David Beckham is one of the co-owners of Inter Miami Football Club. His involvement brought global attention to the club and its ambitions.
- Jorge Mass: Jorge Mass works as the general manager of Inter Miami. His entrepreneurial spirit and local connections helped shape the club’s vision and growth.
- Jose Mass: Jose Mass is Jorge’s brother and co-owner of Inter Miami. Together, the Māsi brothers have contributed to the club’s management and success.
- Marcelo Claure: Marcelo Claure is another key figure in the ownership circle. His business acumen and strategic vision are essential to the operation of Inter Miami.
- Masayoshi Son: Investor Masayoshi Son has expressed his support for the club. His participation, along with the involvement of his son Taizo, adds to Inter Miami’s ownership structure.
Who is the best player in Inter Miami?
- Seven-time Ballon d’Or winner: Messi’s accolades include a record seven Ballon d’Or trophies, the award given to the sport’s best player.
- Three-time UEFA Men’s Player of the Year: His consistent excellence on the pitch has earned him this prestigious title.
- 2022 World Cup: Despite Miami Inter finishing last in the regular season, Messi led the team to victory in the Carabao Cup with 10 goals.
- Champions League glory: Messi won four Champions League titles during his time in Europe. – Bright future for Miami: With Lionel Messi at the helm, Miami Inter’s future looks bright, although they are currently in a difficult situation.
- Six-time domestic league champion: Higuain, another talented Argentinian player, joined Miami Inter in 2020.
- Coppa Italia Champion: Won Coppa Italia once with Napoli and twice with Juventus.
- Top Scorer: Higuain scored for Inter Miami in 2021 and 2022 before retiring after the 2022 season.