“Don’t Punch Him… He’s the GOAT” – Will Smith & Lionel Messi’s Half-Time Bromance Gives MLS Fans a Never-Seen-Before Moment

Published 02/21/2024, 9:52 PM EST

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The majority of the soccer world is currently engulfed by the 2024 MLS opener. Chase Stadium is filled with thousands of spectators as Inter Miami hosts Real Salt Lake for the enthralling match. Among the fans, a star-studded crowd is also in attendance, as Will Smith has turned up. While fans must be excited about his presence, it’s the half-time interaction between the Hollywood superstar and Lionel Messi that has sent netizens into disbelief. 

A clip has emerged showcasing the Argentine icon heading to the tunnel after the referee blew the first-half whistle. Leaning across the railing and waiting for Messi was Will Smith, who stopped the 36-year-old to shake hands. The surprise interaction went beyond a handshake, as La Pulga and the Men in Black star quickly gave each other a tight, warm hug and greeted each other with big smiles.

The two were even talking to each other, but the audio wasn’t clear. While it was quite a rare glimpse to see the two have such a heartfelt encounter, it seems to have shaken up both entertainment and the soccer world. 


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This fan has sent a warning to Will Smith for hugging Lionel Messi so hard!

Smith finally met the GOAT, exclaimed a fan with a fire emoji!

Another netizen claimed that Lionel Messi isn’t the GOAT alone.

A moment of respect between the two of them.

This a confusing statement by a fan as he writes ‘Starboy of America‘. Is this user talking about Lionel Messi or Will Smith?

It seems like the fanbase is not getting over this union between Messi and Smith anytime soon. This certainly goes down as one of the most iconic moments of the MLS. Notably, Will Smith isn’t alone who came to witness La Pulga.


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Other big names who witnessed Lionel Messi at the Chase Stadium

Being the owner of the club, David Beckham is the obvious name to grace the stands with his presence. However, the former Manchester United icon did not just greet Will Smith. Surprisingly, NFL’s famed Chad Johnson also came for the MLS opener. The former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver was seen greeting Beckham before the kickoff


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Additionally, Puerto Rican singer Luis Figueroa was also invited by Inter Miami. The veteran, known for hits like ‘Te Deseo’ and ‘La Especialista’, specially came to perform the national anthem at the Chase Stadium before the kickoff. Nevertheless, let’s hope all the big names are able to see Messi and Co. clinch a perfect victory.

“No [Lionel] Messi in MLS if…” – Commissioner Don Garber Hails David Beckham’s Move to LA Galaxy as a Stepping Stone for Inter Miami Ace


Written by:

Abhishek Mishra


One take at a time

Abhishek Mishra is a senior Soccer Writer at EssentiallySports. His early exposure to playing soccer earned him many accolades at college divisions, making him a sports enthusiast. While closely following daily updates for over a decade, Abhishek is well-versed in European soccer and now the MLS, as well.
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Edited by:

Daniel D'Cruz