In a captivating interview with the Athletic, David Beckham revealed how he managed to secure the signing of Lionel Messi, among other intriguing topics.
Beckham ventured into the world of football club ownership in 2014 when he acquired Inter Miami, and the team made its debut in the MLS in 2020.
The initial journey as an owner proved challenging, with the club facing difficulties under the management of Phil Neville. During Neville’s tenure, the team experienced 41 losses while securing only 31 victories.
However, everything took a dramatic turn with the arrival of Lionel Messi.
The atmosphere around the stadium completely transformed as the little magician made an impact right from his debut, scoring a sensational last-minute free-kick to secure a victory against Cruz Azul.
Four days later, the 36-year-old scored a brace and assisted two more to help his side beat Atalanta United 4-2 in what has been a perfect start to life in the United States.
Beckham has since revealed how it felt to land the seven time Ballon d’Or winner’s signature, claiming that signing Messi was like “walking out of Old Trafford or Wembley”.
“I never thought I would have the same feeling as an owner as I had when I was a player,” Beckham toldThe Athletic, referencing the moment he got the news Messi had chosen to join Miami.
“When I got the phone call, I had the feeling I had when I walked out at Old Trafford or Wembley. I was like, ‘We’ve just beaten all competition to sign the greatest player to ever play our game’.”
Beckham also disclosed how he managed to secure Messi after the World Cup winner announced he was leaving Paris Saint-Germain.
“It all came from a conversation over a glass of wine at dinner,” Beckham said.
“I turn to Jorge [Lionel Messi’s father] and say, ‘One day, we need Messi to come to our club’. It was probably when we first met… That was 10 years ago. So it was always in my mind.
Fast forward to September 2019 and Beckham revealed a secret meeting the pair had in Barcelona.
“We got on a plane and flew to Barcelona from London secretly,” explained Beckham. “We snuck into a hotel, met Jorge Messi (Lionel’s father and also his agent) and started the conversation. It purely went, ‘We would love your son to play for our team one day. We know he can’t come yet, but one day we would love to have Leo in Miami’.
“Then obviously Jorge (Mas) did an incredible job creating a narrative around what he could do for the sport in this country, what he could do for MLS and what he could do for Inter Miami.”
Beckham also offered his thoughts on the prospective takeover of Manchester United. When asked if the Glazers should leave, the former England international replied: “I think so. I think it’s purely because the fans want it. Once you lose the fans, especially at a club like Manchester United, it’s hard to get them back.
“Obviously, they (the Glazers) have achieved a lot, and financially, the fact we’re even talking about the numbers of what Manchester United will sell for shows the success they’ve had. But there needs to be change. We’ve all seen that, we all know that.”
Meanwhile, Beckham hinted that he could be a part of the consortium that succeed the Glazers.
Qatar World Cup stance
The 48-year-old also lifted the lid on his Qatar World Cup stance after he came under criticism for acting as the country’s ‘poster boy’ amid concerns around their human rights record.
Beckham pocketed millions to endorse the tournament, tarnishing his reputation among many supporters who believed he should have stayed at home.
Explaining his decision, Beckham said: “I saw that as an opportunity. Firstly, to be involved in another World Cup. Secondly, Qatar is a relatively young country, it’s on a journey and there’s change.
“What comes with hosting a World Cup brings change. The Qataris said from day one, ‘Everybody is welcome’. I came away after the final thinking, ‘This is possibly one of the safest World Cups I’ve been to’.
“I spoke to people from the LGBTQ community. I was comfortable with the decision I made to get involved because I always feel that to make change you have to communicate, you have to engage.”