MIAMI (WSVN) - As the Miami Heat and the Florida Panthers pursue series titles during their finals, soccer superstar Lionel Messi’s annoncment that he will be joining Inter Miami is sending local sports fans — and local teams — into a frenzy.
The South Florida sports community is having zero trouble making room for the iconic athlete, who is fresh off a World Cup win for his native Argentina.
The region hasn’t landed a sports star this big since LeBron James joined the Heat in 2010.
This time, it’s Major League Soccer and Inter Miami who have hit the lottery.
Messi elaborated on his announcement during an interview that was posted Wednesday.
Speaking in Spanish, he said, “I made the decision that I’m coming to Miami. I still haven’t closed in 100%. I’m missing some things, but we decided to continue on this path.”
Local professional players took to social media to welcome Messi.
In an video posted by the Miami Dolphins, wide receiver Tyreek Hill said, “Welcome to the 305, Lionel Messi. Now we got two number 10s, but I just want to know which one is the fastest, but anyways, congrats to you, man, and shout out, and que lo que, papi. Welcome to Miami, 305.”
Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa also expressed his excitement.
“Got another superstar,” he said.
Not to be upstaged, the Miami Marlins also took to Twitter. In a video, several players held up a Messi jersey. One of them said, “Bienvenido, Messi. Dale!”
Meanwhile, South Florida’s Argentinian community is over the moon. Diners at Fiorito Restaurant, which features a Messi mural on its side, rejoiced at the announcement.
“It’s amazing he’s coming to the place he has to be,” said diner Andres Schiavo. “He’s just meant to be with us in Miami — full of Argentinians, full of Latin American people — so we can’t be more excited.”
Fiorito’s owner, Max Alvarez, said this is nothing less than a landmark moment for South Florida.
“We really believe in this guy. It means a lot — to me, to the restaurant and to Miami itself,” he said.
Messi’s new boss, Jorge Mas, tweeted a photo of a number 10 jersey, Messi’s number, celebrating another win during a magical time for South Florida sports.
Messi’s interview was recorded in Paris, France. It’s is unclear when he will arrive to South Florida.
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