Messi says he wants to 'enjoy every moment' of career
MIAMI – Lionel Messi says he wants to “enjoy every moment” of the remainder of his career and has no date in mind for when he will finally hang up his boots.
The Argentine World Cup winner won his first trophy with his new club Inter Miami with a penalty shoot-out win over Nashville, scoring his 10th goal in seven games since moving to the Florida club in the Leagues Cup final.
The 36-year-old signed a two-and-a-half-year contract with Miami last month but he said he had not even begun to think about his future beyond that deal.
“I’m not thinking about it (retirement) yet, to be honest. I like to play, I enjoy being with a ball on the field, competing, training,” said the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner in an interview with Apple TV+.
“I don’t know how much more I’ll play, but I’ll try to take advantage until I can, until I’m well and then I’ll see. For later there is time to think, to analyse and choose,” he said in the interview, recorded before Saturday’s triumph for his new Major League Soccer club.
“Today the most important thing is to enjoy what’s left, whatever it is, it can be little or a lot,” he said.
“Enjoy every moment, especially because this is not coming back and then I don’t want to regret anything,” he added.
Messi said that his experience so far with Inter Miami left him convinced he had made the right move when his contract with Paris Saint-Germain ended and he repeated his disappointment at his time in the French capital.
Signing for Inter, he said, “was a family decision, (to) try to look for the good of the family. We had spent two complicated years, the truth is that we had not been doing well, we had struggled,” he said.
“It was a bit like going back to what we were when we were in Barcelona, enjoying the day to day, the kids, the family being well. I enjoyed the day-to-day in sports, which was not happening to me,” he explained.
“My trips to the national team were my happiest moments because I enjoyed the place where I was, my teammates and I wanted to come here and find the same thing,” he said.
“Today, after some time has passed, I can say that we were not wrong and we were right when we said this was the right place,” he added.
Later on Wednesday, Messi inspired Inter Miami to come back from two goals down to beat Cincinnati 5-4 on penalties after their thrilling US Open Cup semi-final ended 3-3 after extra-time.
Miami are now one win away from their second trophy since Messi joined the club last month.
Cincinnati are top of Major League Soccer’s standings while Miami are bottom but the Florida team are now a very different side to the one which was winless in their 11 league games before the arrival of the Argentine.
The enthralling unbeaten run of Miami, since the signing of Messi and Spanish pair Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba, looked to be coming to an end in Ohio against an impressive Cincinnati side.
Inter trailed 2-0 with 22 minutes remaining before the Argentine delivered two perfect assists to striker Leonardo Campana to take the game into extra-time.
Messi’s compatriot Luciano Acosta put Cincinnati ahead in the 18th minute and American striker Brandon Vazquez doubled the home side’s lead with a fine strike from the edge of the box in the 53rd minute.
But in the 68th minute, Messi whipped in a free-kick from the left which was headed home by Campana to breathe some life into what had been a tired display from Gerardo Martino’s side.
Then in the seventh minute of stoppage time Messi, from deep on the left, swung in a ball to Campana at the back post again and the Ecuadoran forward angled home his header to force extra-time.
Miami went ahead in the first period with Benjamin Cremaschi sliding an excellent pass into the path of Josef Martinez and the Venezuelan made no mistake with a clinical finish.
But Cincinnati bounced back in the second period with Japanese winger Yuya Kubo firing a right-foot shot into the far corner past the diving Drake Callender.
The teams were at 4-4 in the shoot-out when Callender saved Nick Hagglund’s penalty for Cincinnati and Cremaschi converted to book Miami’s place in the final.
The 18-year-old Miami-born Cremaschi, whose parents are Argentine, was congratulated by Messi after his match-winning spot kick.
“I’m living a huge dream,” he told CBS Sports, “Sometimes I sit down and really think about the position that I’m in and it’s incredible, I never believed I was going to be in the spot I am in now,” he said.
Miami will face the winners of Wednesday’s other semi-final between Houston Dynamo and Real Salt Lake. - AFP