Inter Miami unveils Lionel Messi as fans pack DRV PNK Stadium

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The Lionel Messi era is officially underway in South Florida.

The unveiling took place at a sold-out DRK PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale despite strong thunderstorms in the area that caused a two-hour weather delay.

Inter Miami co-owner and soccer icon David Beckham addressed the crowd before Messi walked out and said that the club will create “unforgettable memories” with the 35-year-old superstar.

“My commitment was to build this,” said Beckham at the unveiling. “This is what we’ve created and we’re very proud of that.”

The 20,000+ fans that attended the event also heard from co-owner Jorge Mas, who had nothing but high praise for his team’s newest addition.

“Tonight, we’re doing this Miami-style in the rain. This is holy water,” said Mas.

The humble Messi told fans that he’s ready to get things started with his new club.

Messi’s teammates also shared their excitement about his arrival with Local 10 News.

“The city turned up. Obviously, we’re celebrating the greatest to ever play this game,” said Inter Miami defenseman DeAndre Yedlin.

Local 10 News spoke with fans who shared their excitement for Messi’s arrival.

“It’s so special because we have the best player in the history of the sport and he’s right here in our field,” said one Messi fan.

Messi’s superfans continued to show up several hours ahead of the 6 p.m. event.

Other fans told Local 10 that they still couldn’t believe that the international soccer superstar is in South Florida.

“It’s almost like a dream. I woke up this morning, and I’m like, holy cow, we’re going to see Messi today, 20 minutes from my house,” said Messi fan Alvaro Freitas.

“It’s about creating memories,” said Messi fan Jaime Rojas. “I think that the reality of Messi coming over to Miami goes beyond just a soccer player.”

Local 10 News spoke with superfan Pablo Suescun, member of the Vice City 1986 Inter Miami support group, who says the hype and Messi mania are for good reason.

“For those who don’t understand, Messi is just not the greatest not of just this generation, but of all time, probably,” he said. “We’re hoping he’s here to do what he’s destined to do. Just lift cups and win us some trophies.”

Christian Barrios told Local 10 he’d do almost anything for a Messi jersey, including trade his wife, which his shirt read in Spanish. He said his wife helped make the shirt.

Inter Miami and Messi fans might not have to wait very long to see him play in his first game with the club as the team is scheduled to play Cruz Azul at 8 p.m. Friday.

About the Authors:

Cody Weddle joined Local 10 News as a full-time reporter in South Florida in August of 2022. Before that, Cody worked regularly with Local 10 since January of 2017 as a foreign correspondent in Venezuela and Colombia.

Ryan Mackey is our newest digital journalist at WPLG. He is New York born and South Florida raised.