Inside David Beckham’s incredible existence in the United States…From A-list buddies to persuading Lionel Messi to join Inter Miami

WHEN Lionel Messi joined David Beckham’s Inter Miami football team, it was the biggest coup in football history.

The former England captain persuaded the world’s finest footballer to sign with a team at the bottom of their United States league in a spectacular act of wheeler dealing.

David Beckham persuaded the world’s greatest player to sign for a team at the bottom of their United States leagueCredit: Getty

Not only that, but the 36-year-old Messi, who led Argentina to World Cup success last summer, rejected down a reputed billion-pound offer from Saudi Arabia’s premier squad.

Becks has skilfully utilized the power of his celebrity friends to tempt Messi with a level of glamour unrivaled in the Middle East.

Reality TV queen Kim Kardashian, basketball superstar LeBron James, and tennis icon Serena Williams were among those in attendance for the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner’s Inter Miami premiere on Friday night.

When Beckham announced the formation of the Florida football team five years ago, he was accompanied by music mogul Jay-Z, famous singer J-Lo, A-list actor Will Smith, and Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt.

After Messi scored an injury-time victory in a cup match at the club’s temporary home pitch, the 48-year-old appeared to be in tears.

Given the difficulties he has had in establishing a football squad from scratch, this is reasonable.

Following legal battles, locals’ protests, and the finding of arsenic in the soil, a promised state-of-the-art stadium has yet to be completed.

‘It’s a dream’

David’s wife Victoria, 49, has been his rock throughout, uprooting the family to spend a lot of the year in Miami.

A source close to the family told us: “Signing Messi has put the team on the global map.

“It’s not just players backing the team, however. David and Victoria’s famous friends have all put weight behind it. Kim Kardashian’s son Saint is a huge football fan and Messi is his idol.

“The same can be said of the Beckhams’ pals like singer Marc Anthony, American football star Tom Brady and Lebron James, who can often be seen at games.

“It’s not just a club, it’s being seen as more of a brand which is hugely commercially viable.”

They added: “From the beginning of the venture over five years ago Victoria said she would support David at every step and that couldn’t be more true.

“Miami is fast becoming a second home for the family and they loved the relaxed pace of life there.”

The Beckhams paid £18.5 million for a penthouse in a 707-foot structure created by famous architect Zaha Hadid, which included a helipad and views of the Atlantic Ocean.

The couple’s four children have also developed strong attachments to the area.

Brooklyn, the eldest son, married actress Nicola Peltz, 28, at her millionaire father’s home just down the road in Palm Beach, while player Romeo, 20, was on the books of Inter Miami’s reserve squad.

Harper, 12, spends the majority of her summer vacation in Miami, and guitarist Cruz, 18, has enjoyed hanging out on the £5 million family yacht in the city’s sun-drenched waters.

Becks is frequently spotted out and about with celebrity friends, including Tom Brady.

Another close friend is nightlife magnate David Grutman, dubbed the “King of Miami” for his restaurant and nightclub empire.

Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez’s ex-husband, married model Nadia Ferreira in January at Miami’s Pérez Art Museum.

Goldenballs made a big impression at the Miami Grand Prix last year, and Victoria has been sighted out and about with her pal, Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria.

The Beckhams have dined at popular restaurants such as Makoto, where the Kardashians have been spotted, and Zuma Miami, a favorite of rap star Drake and Will Smith.

David, on the other hand, loves more basic fare and frequently visits Enriqueta’s Sandwich Shop, a Cuban restaurant where the most expensive items cost £9.

“He — has a little coffee — he likes Costa Rican coffee and loves the pork or a Cubano sandwich,” said Leidys Pla, whose family owns the eatery.

He’s always kind and willing to pose for photos with everyone who requests them.

Leidys Pla

“He’s always very nice and takes pictures with anyone who wants them.”

Her mother Lucia Pla added with a smile: “David Beckham is my friend.”

Even Becks’ A-list pals have been overshadowed by Messi’s presence, who is revered as a deity in the predominantly Latino city.

Everyone wanted to see the South American master, with touts demanding up to £85,000 for tickets.

Murals honoring the Argentine striker have appeared everywhere, and innovative entrepreneurs are selling Messi-themed meals and even a Messi beer.

“It’s a dream to have Messi here,” Inter fan Maximiliano Infantino, 46, told The Sun.Beckham has the ability to make things happen.

“Miami doesn’t know what’s going to hit it.

“You look at the bus stops and all you see are pictures of Messi. It’s going to change everything.”

One mural covers an entire side of a seven-floor building and shows two images of Messi painted by a local graffiti artist and touched up by Beckham, who stopped by to paint Messi’s teeth.

Axel Montano, 30, who was selling T-shirts by the mural, said: “I want to thank David Beckham for bringing Lionel Messi to this city.

Beckham with new Inter Miami signing Lionel MessiCredit: instagram

‘Cocktail for success’ “They are equals and they understand each other.”

Convincing the sublime soccer superstar to join the club clearly meant a huge deal to Beckham.

The ex-England captain, who co-owns the club with Miami businessman Jorge Mas, said: “The moment that Leo went on TV and announced that he was coming to Miami, that was an emotional moment.”

He’s been after Messi for at least two years.

The former Barcelona player is said to be paid a base annual salary of £15 million, plus £30 million in bonuses, and is reportedly set to receive a stake in the team when his contract expires in 2025.

Messi joined Barcelona on a free transfer from PSG, and his earnings will be supplemented in part by a streaming agreement with Apple Plus.

Having Messi here is a dream come true for us. Beckham has the ability to make things happen.

Infantino Maximiliano

His signing has thrilled other club executives, including The Apprentice star and West Ham vice-chairman Baroness Karren Brady.

She told The Sun: “With his boots on, Becks proved that unique technical ability and a tireless work ethic — aided by no shortage of charm and a sharp understanding of his own marketability — was a surefire cocktail for success.

“In the boardroom he is proving just the same as a football club owner.”

Anyone who dismissed Beckhams as a footballer-turned-underwear model couldn’t be more wrong.

He earned £657,000 per week last year, with most of the money coming from his brand, which is licensed to Adidas, Electronic Arts video games, Haig Club whisky, Maserati cars and Tudor watches.

Those sums could be overshadowed by Inter Miami in the future.

The club is Beckham’s personal project, after he cut a canny deal when he signed to play football for LA Galaxy 16 years ago.

With his boots on, Becks proved that unique technical ability and a tireless work ethic — aided by no shortage of charm and a sharp understanding of his own marketability — was a surefire cocktail for success.

Karren Brady As part of the arrangement, Major League Soccer guaranteed Beckham that he could establish his own football team in the United States for less than a fourth of the usual cost asked by the competition.

However, he has had to overcome local opposition to different designs for a permanent stadium in the Florida city.

Currently, the team plays 30 miles away in Fort Lauderdale’s 21,000-seat DRV PNK Stadium, which was once home to another football team.

Due to Covid restrictions, the first Inter Miami home match in 2020 had to be postponed — and Beckham has gone through four managers in four years.

He showed a merciless streak when he fired old England and Manchester United teammate Phil Neville last month, with the club currently wallowing at the bottom of the Eastern Conference league at 15th.

The success of the Apple TV football comedy Ted Lasso and the Disney Plus Welcome To Wrexham documentary — about Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney taking over another Welsh non-league side — shows that there is a market for the sport in the United States.

This enthusiasm will grow much more when the United States, Mexico, and Canada co-host the World Cup in three years.

“We can all look on with pride as we see one of our greatest national treasures now helping to inspire another generation by sprinkling more stardust in the US,” says Baroness Brady.

“It can only be positive for the future welfare of our beautiful game as the love of it continues to spread across the world.”

Becks with LeBron James at Messi’s Inter Miami debutCredit: Instagram

Beckham’s Miami apartment buiding was designed by star architect Zaha Hadid

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