“Messi mania” spread through Hong Kong on Saturday, drawing tens of thousands of football fans to see Lionel Messi train with his Inter Miami teammates. AFP reports that before a game on Sunday, fans went to the Hong Kong Stadium to see the Argentine legend, who was considered the best player of his time. The streets around the stadium were closed off by police.
People were waiting in line outside the 40,000-seat stadium hours before Inter Miami played in an open practice, singing the name of the leader who won the World Cup. David Beckham, who co-owns the Major League Soccer team, showed up to loud cheers from almost the whole crowd. But Messi’s 36-year-old teammates cheered him on as he came out to join them for a light run on the field.
A few minutes later, the crowd almost fell to the ground. Because of a nagging hamstring injury, the eight-time Ballon d’Or winner spent most of the hour-long practice stretching. However, he did join 80 lucky Hong Kong students for a game of soccer during a coaching workshop that followed. Soon enough, Beckham took on the job of teaching the kids some skills. But most of the thousands of fans who came were there to see Messi play.
On Sunday, the team was playing a game against a Hong Kong Select XI. A Chinese student named Li Weiyi, 17, who had come from Shenzhen on mainland China, said, “It’s the first time in my life I see Messi.” It makes me feel really happy. I care about him a lot. “He introduced me to football and made me love it,” he said. Most of the fans wore pink Inter Miami shirts or blue and white striped Argentina shirts. WHAT WE RECOMMEND FOR YOU