Whether it’s meeting celebrities or celebrating with family, the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner seems to love life in Florida.
The first thing Lionel Messi did after the goal was to hug his children. It doesn’t matter if it’s adoring teammates, screaming fans, or celebrities lining the field capturing every moment. Messi, who had just completed a majestic stoppage-time free kick to seal the win on his Inter Miami debut, was eager to share the moment with his family.
Everything seemed a foregone conclusion last Friday at DRV PNK Stadium, which unfortunately is about 45 minutes from Miami. Messi entered the match against Cruz Azul in the second half with a tie, but his new team was increasingly losing. Everything went as smoothly as possible for the next 35 minutes. Miami goaltender Drake Callender made a series of jump saves, while fellow rookie Sergio Busquets escaped with several fouls.
Inevitably, in the 93rd minute Messi was given his moment. He was hit just to the left of the gate and about 25 yards away. The problem with fouling Messi at this point is that he has already scored that goal countless times. Know the exact curve, zipper and ball drop. At the moment, it’s not so much a calculation as it is a muscle memory.
Of course, the 36-year-old’s left foot did the trick, bringing the stadium to ecstasy and celebrating the arrival of the Argentine in American football. Football lacks touching moments, especially when it comes to famous players and big money. It all seems too luxurious, too curatorial. But that second, that free kick was just perfect.
So the Messi years begin in Miami. They may not be as successful on the field for the Argentine, despite his electric start. They may not even be particularly visible all the time. But for those who tune in, as well as for the man himself, they will be immensely entertaining.
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