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With Miami move, Messi joins elite list of soccer greats who went west

Football legend Lionel Messi had many options on where his career could go after playing for Paris Saint-Germain. So his decision to cross the pond and play in North America was surprising. But maybe it shouldn’t have been.

This week it was reported that the Argentinian big will join Major League Soccer’s Inter Miamisome details are still to be worked out.

But he is not the first global soccer superstar to move to this side of the Atlantic after his career ended, something he seemed to acknowledge when he announced his move to Miami and the MLS.

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Vancouverites react to Lionel Messi coming to MLS

International soccer star Lionel Messi announced on Wednesday that he will join MLS side Inter Miami. Vancouver Whitecaps fans are excited about the prospect of Messi coming to Vancouver.

“After winning the World Cup and returning to Barcelona, ​​it was my turn to go to the United States league to experience football in a different way,” said Messi, who has also won seven times. Ballon d’Or winner and a four-time Champions League winner, among other sporting achievements.

Here are some other players who have made the jump.

Pele paves the way to New York

It was Pele who paved the way for other superstars to come to North America nearly five decades ago.

Pele runs onto the field before a soccer game on August 25, 1977 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Pele runs onto the field in August 1977 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The soccer legend played in the North American Soccer League for his last three years. (The Associated Press)

As the three-time World Cup winner saw it, he too was carving a path for the beautiful game.

“Now you can tell the world that soccer has finally arrived in the United States,” Pele said. the New York Times reports the day he signed with the New York Cosmos the now defunct North American Soccer League (NASL), back in June 1975.

His North American career gave his fans on this side of the border a chance to see Pele up close when he played games in Canada.

Image from July 1975 shows Bill Davis meeting football great Pele.
Then-Ontario Premier Bill Davis, left, meets Pele before a soccer game between the New York Cosmos and Toronto Metro-Croatia at Toronto’s Varsity Stadium in July 1975. (CBC Archive)

Pele, who? died last December at the age of 82spent the last three years as a professional playing with the Cosmos.

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At first, George Best denied the rumors that he was going to Los Angeles.

“They jumped the gun,” Best said, according to a Dec. 5, 1975, news brief in the Toronto Star regarding rumors that he had struck a deal. “I still have other proposals to consider and that could take several months.”

Football star George Best is seen on the field in New York City during a 1978 football game.
George Best of the Los Angeles Aztecs plays against the New York Cosmos in 1978. The Belfast-born soccer superstar also played for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers during his time in the North American Soccer League. (Tony Duffy/Allsport/Getty Images/Hulton Archive)

But the Belfast-born football great, Ballon d’Or winner and Former Manchester United striker — Will actually pitch for the Los Angeles Aztecs next spring.

the best who died at the age of 59 in 2005will play for several NASL teams.

Beckenbauer’s Cosmos run

Franz Beckenbauer followed in Pele’s footsteps by joining the New York Cosmos for four seasons beginning in 1977.

Franz Beckenbauer fights for a soccer ball during a soccer match in 1983.
Franz Beckenbauer, left, fights for the ball during a match in May 1983. (The Associated Press)

The Cosmos have won the league championship three times with Beckenbauer on their roster. He returned to Germany for two seasons before returning to the Cosmos in 1983 for his final season as a player.

Beckenbauer made his name at international level playing in West Germany and continental Europe with Bayern Munich.

But his influence in America was that of Beckenbauer In 1998, he was inducted into the US Football Hall of Fame.

LA is calling Beckham

That was big enough news for that National It should be noted that the British legend David Beckham signed a contract with North American football back in January 2007.

Soccer great David Beckham trains on the field in Toronto in July 2008.
Soccer great David Beckham is seen training at BMO Field in Toronto in July 2008. (CBC Archive)

“He, soccer fans hope, will breathe new life into the North American game.” NationalAdrien Arsenault reported that Beckham’s deal with the LA Galaxy was announced on the day.

Beckham, then 31, said he was going to America not for the money, but for the opportunity to “hopefully build a club and a team that has a lot of potential”.

The English midfielder would go on to win two titles with the Galaxy in the coming years. a Beckham’s statue now stands outside the stadium where the Los Angeles club plays.

And when Messi finally makes his debut in Miami, probably in July According to the Associated Press, he will have another global soccer superstar to cheer him on, as Beckham is one of the co-owners of Inter Miami.

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