The best videos and celebrations from Lionel Messi and Inter Miami Leagues Cup final win

  • Lionel Messi scored his tenth goal in seven games for Inter Miami
  • The Herons beat Nashville 10-9 in a nail-biting penalty shootout
  • Inter Miami celebrated the first trophy in the history of the franchise exuberantly
Inter Miami won the first trophy in the club's history in the 2023 Leagues Cup final
Inter Miami won the first trophy in the club's history in the 2023 Leagues Cup final / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

Few are in doubt about the impact Lionel Messi has had on an Inter Miami side that still sits bottom of the Eastern Conference, but Nashville SC's coach Gary Smith underscored his influence.

"To be perfectly honest," Smith sighed after losing to Miami in the 2023 Leagues Cup final via a penalty shootout, "if it wasn't for the man of the moment in their group, we would have won tonight. The goal that he scored is just incredible, out of nothing, and with his only other shot on goal he hits the post."

Messi scored in his seventh consecutive appearance for Miami to break the deadlock before Fafa Picault equalised an hour in. The Herons held their nerve in a penalty shootout which involved all 22 players to win the first trophy in the club's history.

Here's how Miami and their man of the moment celebrated a historic achievement.

Messi definitely cares

The World Cup victory in December formed a natural full stop to Messi's time at the highest level. "Obviously I wanted to complete my career with this - I can't ask for more," he reflected. "Finishing my career this way is impressive."

After winning the World Cup, Messi scored as many league goals as Alexis Sanchez, skulking out of the back door at Paris Saint-Germain with a Ligue 1 title won to the soundtrack of boos from the capital side's own fans.

Yet, there has been little evidence to suggest that Messi moved to Miami as part of an early retirement plan. A double-digit goal tally after just seven games helps prove that point, as does the unbridled joy in his immediate celebration of Drake Callender's match-winning penalty save.

Messi and his windmilling arms weren't first on the scene but he did join in with the mass pile-on that formed on top of Callender, who not only rebuffed the decisive penalty but emphatically scored his own spot kick seconds earlier.

Once Messi had extricated himself from the huddle, he passed the time waiting for the trophy ceremony by playing rock, paper, scissors with his youngest son Ciro. Unlike all seven of his appearances for Inter Miami, that was a game which he lost.

Captain confusion

Messi may have made the difference but he did his best to shift the spotlight from himself after the final whistle. DeAndre Yedlin was club captain when Messi arrived before voluntarily handing over the armband to the World Cup-winning skipper.

Yet, Messi thrust the strapping around Yedlin's arm after Sunday's showpiece and lifted the trophy together with the full-back.



Everyone wants a piece of Messi

When Barcelona won the 2021 Copa del Rey, the rest of the squad queued up like excited children to have their picture taken with the trophy and - more importantly - Messi. Inter Miami's players were not quite as well choreographed - this was their first piece of silverware with Messi after all - but the vast majority of the squad have posted photos of themselves celebrating with their new teammate.

Co-owner David Beckham was quick to wrap Messi up in a meaty embrace after the final whistle and posed for a star-studded snap alongside Messi, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba in the changing room post-game.

Yet, of the countless images, Facundo Farias nabbed the best shot when he squeezed his tiny newborn baby into the frame.

As a veteran of 17 trophies won alongside Messi for Barcelona and now Miami, Alba knows the drill. The entire squad had gathered together in front of their travelling fans for a group shot with the giant silver pot but there was one person missing.

Alba swiftly stood up to put a halt to proceedings, ushering Messi into the scene before giving the camera operator the green light.

Champagne problems

The saying goes: "Champagne for my real friends, real pain for my sham friends." Inter Miami coach Tata Martino seemed to get a bit of both as a rowdy subsection of his squad crashed his post-match press conference to violently soak him in bubbles.

Martino was hardly the only Miami member of staff that bounced onto the team bus in a moist top. The dressing room was awash with fizzy liquid as the squad wholeheartedly embraced the tradition of dousing one another with alcoholic beverages.

Unlike the ambushed Martino, almost all of Miami's players were equipped with ski goggles to prevent any champagne from entering their bleary eyes.

Just two months earlier, MVP Nikola Jokic had been wearing the same unseasonal get-up as the Denver Nuggets won the NBA Finals. Jokic led the Nuggets to victory over the Miami Heat in June but the Florida city would not have to wait long before celebrating a title of their own.