Inter Miami, led by “King” Messi, brings both love and heartbreak to Hong Kong.

Heartbroken, Lionel Messi’s three days of adoration in Hong Kong came to an end on Sunday when the Argentine star did not play in Inter Miami’s 4-1 friendly victory against a local League XI in front of a sold-out crowd.
Both Messi and former Barcelona striker Luis Suarez were sitting on the bench; neither player was used. When Messi entered the game as a substitute during Miami’s 6-0 loss against Al-Nassr on Friday, there were worries that he might have a hamstring injury.

Inter Miami, led by "King" Messi, brings both love and heartbreak to Hong Kong

For the sole training session on Saturday, around 40,000 supporters descended upon Hong Kong Stadium, yelling “Messi! Messi! Messi!” and waving replicas of his number 10 shirt while he and club co-owner David Beckham engaged with neighbourhood kids.

“I became interested in football because of Messi.” Since the beginning, he has been my hero,” 16-year-old Aasir Mubarak remarked. “Today is going to be extra special because it’s my first time seeing Messi in person. I will always cherish this moment.”

Since arriving from Saudi Arabia on Friday, the World Cup winner has been surrounded by adoring fans dressed in Miami’s pink or Argentina’s blue and white, with hundreds of them waiting outside the team hotel to try to catch a glimpse of the 36-year-old.

Student Gary Sheng, 19, said, “I feel especially excited today because I’ve been a big fan of Messi since 2014 when I started watching football, but I never had the chance to get close to him.”

“Words cannot express how I feel right now. This is the most exhilarating feeling when the football monarch is a mere few metres away. I’m just overjoyed right now.
When match tickets went on sale in December, Hong Kong fans lost no time in grabbing them—within an hour, demand for the eight-time Ballon d’Or winner’s first match in the territory since 2014 reached a fever pitch.

When Miami continues their preseason trip against J.League champions Vissel Kobe on Wednesday, Messi can anticipate similar scenes in Tokyo.

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