David Beckham told AFP on Wednesday that Lionel Messi was “our gift to America and the MLS” when he signed with his team, Inter Miami.
Beckham, a former player for Manchester United and Real Madrid, said that he still has to pinch himself when he sees the Argentinian World Cup winner on the team sheet in Florida. He was in India for the first time as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.
“It’s still hard to believe that when someone turns around to me and says Inter Miami have Lionel Messi in their team, you know,” he stated.
As a team owner, I’m very happy to have that guy on our team. He’s the best player in the world.
“We always knew that bringing Leo to the United States, not just to Miami, was a gift to the country and the MLS.”
“Because that person changes the rules.” Another group of football players is inspired by people like that.
“That’s why we wanted Leo to join the team.” We do want to win titles, of course. We do, after all, want to be the league’s best team.
“But one reason we bought him was to offer hope to the next generation of American football players.”
“To want to play football. It’s important for us that we bring him with us because it does that.
People in the football world were shocked when Messi turned down huge offers from Saudi Arabia and other places to join Inter Miami in July, seven months after leading Argentina to victory at the World Cup in Qatar.
The 36-year-old went on to have some great games in Major League Soccer, but Inter Miami couldn’t make it to the playoffs this season.
“Face lights up”
Beckham, who is 48 years old, co-owns Inter Miami. He has turned his great playing career—he captained England and won the Champions League with Manchester United—into a public role as a rights activist and fashion star.
He talked to AFP in Mumbai before going to see the start of the Cricket World Cup semi-final between India and New Zealand. Questions for the conversation had to be approved ahead of time.
Beckham said that he first got in touch with the UN Children’s Fund when he was a teenager.
“My first involvement with UNICEF was when I was 17 years old in Thailand when I was there with Manchester United, and I went to a women’s care centre,” he shared.
“However, from the places I’ve been over the years, I know that young girls are being left behind; they aren’t getting the same rights and chances as boys.”
“So our focus has really been on girls in the last five to 10 years and that is the same here.”
Beckham said he was sure that sports could be very important in kids’ lives, just like they were in his.
“It taught me how to be a leader, work with others, be disciplined, and stay focused.” “And just to have that confidence,” the father of four kids said.
When I go to different towns around the world with UNICEF, I’ve seen how happy the kids get when I bring a football with me.
“For that time when I’m playing football with them or they’re kicking a football around, they forget about everything else that is going on around them that is not good.”