Miami’s Messi frenzy over the arrival of soccer superstar Lionel Messi, one of the most famous humans on the planet, bought lucky charms and flute loops at Publix, a grocery store near Fort Lauderdale, last week. It reached its climax when it was witnessed.
Shoppers stared and took pictures with their cell phones. Casual outing? Publicity stunt? who cares? Messi and his photogenic young family landed in a football-mad neighborhood that had hoped to catch Messi for years. Already, Messi looked like a local in shorts and flip-flops.
South Florida is filled with rabid fans of the Argentinian Messi, whose deal Saturday means a coup for Inter Miami in Major League Soccer. And Miami, the unofficial capital of Latin America, itself has a penchant for celebrities. When the team invited Messi to a packed stadium in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday night after a severe thunderstorm, he thanked the crowd in Spanish for “making me feel at home so quickly”. .
“I am very happy that I chose to come to this city with my family,” he said. He is scheduled to make his debut in Friday’s game.
The team played a montage video of Miami celebrities (Marc Anthony, DJ Khaled and Gloria Estefan) welcoming Messi, followed by a concert with Latin pop singers Camilo and Ozuna.
Ever since LeBron James declared in 2010 that he would “bring his talents to South Beach (or, more precisely, downtown Miami)” to play basketball for the Miami Heat, the area has been on the rise for athletes. Never had I been so frenzied by existence. In the weeks since Messi announced he would sign with Inter Miami last month, artists have raced across the city to paint murals of him. The restaurant has rewritten its menu to serve a version of his favorite breaded meat called milanesa.
European and Latin American footballers, including Messi, 36, have bought properties and vacationed in South Florida for years, in part because of a level of anonymity not otherwise possible. because you can enjoy But we expect Messi, who has played for clubs in Barcelona and Paris, to come to bottom-placed Inter Miami at this point rather than Saudi Arabia, which has been offered a more lucrative contract to end his storied career. Very few people did. .
His arrival was published in a seven-page spread in the Miami Herald on Sunday. Once known for part-time paparazzi, actor Matt Damon, a former Miami Beach resident and married to an Argentinian, said in 2009 that photographers only bothered him on weekends. And Messi continues to be chased by cameras.
He appears in banner ads for revenue-sharing MLS streaming partner Apple TV+ as a pink goat in the colors of Inter Miami’s team and his status as “the greatest of all time.” He rocks hard on his café billboard, where he peddles his new Messi his chicken sandwiches.
Argentinian community in South Florida, America’s largestwas overjoyed that the South American country’s most recognized man was now its own.
Gabriel Groisman, a former Bal Harbor mayor whose parents immigrated from Argentina in the late 1970s, said, “Despite decades of political and economic turmoil, Argentines take immense pride in their country. I have,” he said. “At home we only spoke Spanish. We literally had Argentinian barbecue in our backyard five times a week.”
When Messi’s Argentina won its first World Cup in 36 years last year, a caravan of blue-and-white national flags held a celebration in the Miami Beach neighborhood, also known as Little Buenos Aires. Last week, Messi dined at Café Prima Pasta, an Argentinian-owned neighborhood restaurant. The most expensive dish there, the steak, costs $36.95. Fans turned up at the back door asking for autographs and selfies.
Argentinian Football Federation Plans to build a $10 million training facility Located in North Bay Village between Miami and Miami Beach. Messi reportedly owns a multi-million dollar condominium in an ultra-luxury tower near Sunny Isles Beach, whose selling points include a car elevator.
Carlos Delfino, who left Argentina for South Beach more than 20 years ago, said football was “like going to church” for Argentines. He runs Parilla Liberty, a steakhouse dedicated to Messi and Diego Maradona, who led Argentina to the 1986 world championship.
“Messi certainly wanted security, tranquility and the beach,” said Delfino, who flew to Qatar in December for the World Cup final. “And warm people. Argentinians like to go out for coffee and say hello to people.”
“We live our culture here. We know where you can buy dulce de leche, yerba mate and facturas, or Argentinian pastries,” said Little Miami in 2018. Maximiliano Alvarez, who commissioned a mural of Messi at his restaurant Fiorito in the Haiti area, said. Messi’s arrival has already attracted more regulars.
“For Messi, one day I’ll be here myself,” he said, “that’s the dream.”