Messi’s record eighth Ballon d’Or trophy celebrated, presented to crowd
Inter Miami CF celebrated team captain Lionel Messi on Friday night in the Noche d’Or, honoring him for securing his record eighth Ballon d’Or with a special ceremony at DRV PNK Stadium. The festivities were followed by a friendly against New York City FC to close out 2023, with the hosts narrowly falling 1-2.
“I’ve only been here a little while but it really feels like I’ve been here a long time. I want to thank all the people of Miami, not only the ones here at the stadium, but in the city in general, for the way you have treated not only me, but also my family these last few months. You’ve shown me a lot of love and made me feel at home,” said Messi. “I had no doubt that we were going to have a good time, that we were going to enjoy it. Today I have no doubt, as I didn't at the beginning, and much less now, that next year is going to be a lot better. We are going to continue enjoying, we are going to continue winning titles and I hope you accompany us as you accompanied us all these months that I’ve been here.”
The night began with a ceremony on the pitch that saw Managing Owner Jorge Mas, Co-Owner Jose Mas, and MLS Commissioner Don Garber walk down a gold carpet and address the crowd at DRV PNK Stadium before introducing Messi as an eight-time Ballon d’Or winner. Messi then presented his historic trophy to the crowd, thanked them for their support, and looked ahead to 2024 as gold fireworks rang in the background and the fans cheered his name.
The match then kicked off with Drake Callender starting in goal; DeAndre Yedlin, Ryan Sailor, Kamal Miller and Jordi Alba lined up in defense; Sergio Busquets, David Ruiz and Diego Gómez started in midfield; Facundo Farías started in attack behind Leonardo Campana and captain Messi leading the attack.
Inter Miami kicked off the matchup dominating in possession, with Messi creating dangerous opportunities in attack throughout the opening stages. New York, however, found the back of the net first, scoring just before and after the halftime whistle.
The hosts got a goal back in the 81st minute when Busquets slipped a pass to substitute Robbie Robinson on the left side of the box. The American forward then struck a low left-footed shot with power past the goalkeeper and into the back of the net to make it 1-2, which would hold as the final scoreline.
Inter Miami will now enter the offseason and set its sights on 2024, a campaign that will offer the team its first taste of continental competition in the Concacaf Champions Cup.