David Beckham, former soccer player and co-owner of Inter Miami FC, Thursday said he cherishes the impossible feat of bringing international soccer legend Lionel Messi to the South Florida-based soccer club in July, which to him is no less than a milestone in his life, The Times of London reported.
Reflecting on this accomplishment, Beckham acknowledged the competitive nature of securing Messi's signature, especially when Barcelona expressed interest in retaining the Argentine soccer star.
“We always knew there would be competition,” Beckham stated in an interview with The Times of London. “The time I got a bit worried was when Barcelona showed interest.
The club obviously pulls on his heartstrings and he never really got to say the goodbye he deserved there," he added, referring to Messi's 17 seasons with Barça.
Despite the challenges, Beckham managed to secure Messi for just over $20.4 million, a derring-do that still gives him "goosebumps," as he shared with The Times of London.
While soccer, known globally as football, has gained immense popularity, it has only recently risen to prominence in the US International players like Beckham and Thierry Henry have joined Major League Soccer teams to increase visibility for US-based teams.
Successfully persuading a player of Messi's calibre to join Inter Miami was not just a sporting achievement but a strategic move to elevate the profile of U.S. soccer.
“I said, ‘How many elite athletes have had the opportunity to change a sport in a country?’ It is transformational for the sport in the United States," Beckham explained about his pitch. "This is just the beginning. His presence, medium to long-term, will prove that this league belongs among the world’s best leagues over time."
This isn't the first time Beckham has expressed admiration for Messi. When Messi officially joined Inter Miami, Beckham introduced him to a sold-out crowd at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, calling Messi's arrival a "dream come true."
In a moment of reflection, Beckham stated, “So please forgive me for feeling a little bit emotional tonight. It truly is a dream come true to welcome Lionel Messi to Inter Miami ... Bienvenido a La Familia."
Beckham's appreciation for Messi is also evident in the trailer for "Messi Meets America," an Apple TV+ docu-series providing an inside look at the latest chapter of Messi’s life and career. In the trailer, Beckham praises Messi as "one of the greatest players in the world.”
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