Lionel Messi made his debut for new club Inter Miami on Friday in a Leagues Cup victory against Liga MX side Cruz Azul. The Argentine started on the bench but was substituted in the 54th minute after much applause from the fans.
The game was trailing 1-1 until the 94th minute when a free kick was given to Inter Miami near the goal. Messi calmly put the ball in the net grabbing a winning goal in his debut game. It was also the Major League Soccer club’s first win against a top-tier club since a May 7 victory against Atlanta United. During the post-match interview, Messi didn’t fail to show his class and humility to the star-filled stadium.
OFF A FREE KICK.
ON HIS DEBUT.
LEO MESSI 👑
— B/R Football (@brfootball) July 22, 2023
Lionel Messi dedicates debut victory to injury-riddled teammate
Even though Lionel Messi is one of the biggest athletes, he again showed his down-to-earth attitude. Messi had just scored the winner in his debut game in a new club, but Messi still found time to give tribute to an injured teammate.
The player in question is Ian Fray, a 20-year-old young defender. The American youngster had started the game but was injured in the 30th minute, forcing him to be substituted. Furthermore, the Mirror revealed that Ian has been battling injury issues for a long time.
The academy graduate missed the 2022 season because of an ACL injury. This followed the ACL injury he suffered in 2021, just one month after his professional debut. Inter Miami revealed after the game that Ian has now suffered another ACL injury. He has only made 14 appearances for the club in these years.
20-year-old defender Ian Fray suffered a third career ACL Tear in Inter Miami's 2-1 victory over Cruz Azul in Leagues Cup play last night. 🥺
Lionel Messi dedicated their win to him in his postgame interview. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/6wz6M87Xpm
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) July 22, 2023
After the game, Messi said, “Let me dedicate this victory to Ian Fray, who was suffering in the locker room from the injury he sustained. He comes from two serious injuries, and today he has the bad luck to go through an injury again.”
Messi and his teammates were also seen holding Ian’s jersey in celebrations in the dressing room.
Messi’s Inter Miami debut attracted global icons in sold-out crowd
Messi’s debut game was highly anticipated from when he signed his contract at the club. Ticket prices were increased drastically and yet the 27,000 seater DRV PNK Stadium was fully packed. The fans started chanting Messi’s name right from the first minute, even though he was on the bench.
But it was not just regular people cheering for Messi. The debut game also hosted a lot of famous personalities who wanted to see the Argentine superstar up close. The VIP area was full of iconic athletes such as basketball superstar Lebron James, and tennis icon Serena Williams. David Beckham was also there, though it was expected as he is the team’s co-owner.
Messi had everyone in Miami to see his Inter Miami debut 🤩
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 22, 2023
Other superstars such as famous supermodel Kim Kardashian and singer Marc Anthony were also present. Even famous Cristiano Ronaldo superfan IShowSpeed was present, with a video of his celebration going viral. Messi later spent time with Lebron James and Kim Kardashian’s son Saint. Clearly, Lionel Messi is a name that even attracts other big superstars.
Messi will next be expected to make his MLS debut as Inter Miami hosts Atlanta United on July 26.