Starstruck Miami-Dade residents are starting to run into Lionel Messi

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Starstruck fans have been reporting Lionel Messi sightings in South Florida. The latest was in a parking lot on Friday. Others ran into him at a supermarket and at an Italian restaurant.

Tomas Alvarez, who works at the Buenos Aires Bakery and Cafe in Pembroke Pines, is hopeful that he too will get to see the captain of Argentina’s national team up close.

“I hope he comes in here,” Alvarez said adding that he was grateful to Messi for “all he does for Argentina and fútbol.”

The global icon moved to Miami-Dade County to play for Inter Miami CF of Major League Soccer, which David Beckham co-owns with Cuban-American brothers Jorge and José Mas, both Miami businessmen.

At Publix Supermarket, a corporate sponsor of Inter Miami, Messi’s wife, Antonela Roccuzzo, his high school sweetheart, pushed the grocery cart. Messi, and their sons Thiago, Mateo, and Ciro followed.

Messi had visited Cafe Prima Pasta in Miami Beach before. He returned to find images of him on display. Henry Villar, the proud manager of the restaurant, described Messi as very much a man of the people.

“He said hello to everybody, very humble,” Villar said.

On Friday, a woman shared a photo with Messi after she ran into the forward in the parking lot of a doctor’s office in Broward County. On Sunday, Messi will attend Inter Miami’s official unveiling.

Next Friday, eager fans in their flamingo pink MLS team T-shirts will welcome Messi for his on-pitch debut against Cruz Azul at the DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale.

It remains unclear where Messi and his family will live. Architectural Digest reported he owns a unit at the Porsche Design Tower, which has a glass car elevator, in Sunny Isles Beach.

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About the Author:

Janine Stanwood joined Local 10 News in February 2004 as an assignment editor. She is now a general assignment reporter. Before moving to South Florida from her Washington home, Janine was the senior legislative correspondent for a United States senator on Capitol Hill.