It was all part of “Noche d’Or”, Miami’s tribute to their superstar No. 10 in honor of clinching the prestigious annual award for a record eighth time last month.
“Thank you for being here, for this lovely honor," Messi began, putting an exclamation point on a memorable first-half season in South Florida. "For me, it’s really beautiful to be able to share it with you. I’ve only been here a short time, but it feels like I’ve been here forever."
“I want to thank all the people of Miami, not only those that are here in the stadium, but the city in general for how they’ve treated me all these months, both myself and my family," the 2022 FIFA World Cup champion with Argentina continued.
"They’ve shown me a lot of kindness, making me feel at home. It’s a city with lots of Latinos, which makes me feel really comfortable. We’re doing well here, so thank you very much.”
Messi's incredible start to life in Miami included a legendary run to the Leagues Cup 2023 title, the club's first-ever trophy. For the game's most decorated player, that's just a taste of the success he hopes to achieve in 2024 and beyond.
“We’ve been here a short time but we already achieved something very important, which was the first title for this club, for our club," Messi declared.
"It's something very important because we went for it, the club needed it. For us players, for how we were doing, it’s important for what’s to come next year. And why not the possibility of playing an important tournament?"
Messi, who joined the Herons in July after leaving France's Paris Saint-Germain, was quickly joined in MLS by Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba. That ex-FC Barcelona trio may increase to four next year, with Luis Suárez widely reported to be joining their project.
"Like I said in the beginning, I had no doubts we were going to have fun, we were going to enjoy," Messi said. "And today I have no doubts, just like in the beginning, that next year will be much better. We’re going to keep on having fun, keep on winning titles. And hopefully you join us like you did all these months I’ve been here because we really need your support. It was amazing having you close.
"Like I said before, next year we have important things and we have to do it together. Thank you very much. Good night."