EXCLUSIVE: Leo Messi on Soccer’s Influence on Fashion and His History With Adidas

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It was the ultimate power shot.

When Adidas CEO Bjørn Gulden hit South Florida last month to watch the brand’s longtime ambassador Leo Messi in action, FN was ready to document the dynamic duo as a fitting way to mark Adidas’ 75th anniversary milestone.

The formidable pair made it happen right before Messi’s game against the New York Red Bulls in front of a packed crowd, proving “Messi Mania” is alive and well in the U.S.

The greatest player that soccer has ever seen, Messi has exponentially boosted the presence of the sport stateside since July 2023, when he signed with Inter Miami CF. His contract, the team confirmed at the time, will run through the 2025 Major League Soccer (MLS) season.

The athlete told FN that he expects the excitement in the U.S. to only grow from here. “It’s a global game that will continue to gain momentum and popularity,” Messi said. “The local tournament is competitive, and adding Mexican teams in the Leagues Cup also makes it attractive. Also, at a country level, the Copa America, the Club World Cup 2025, the 2026 World Cup, pushes a lot. And more and more international players are coming to the league.”

Messi is a longtime Adidas ambassador, signing with the German athletic giant in 2006 after parting ways with Nike.

Adidas, Messi, Inter Miami, soccer
Adidas welcomes Messi to Miami with a fleet of vehicles dressed in Inter Miami FC’s black and pink hues.

Adidas celebrated Messi’s grand arrival in spectacular fashion, organizing a fleet of vehicles including a cargo ship, boats and helicopters, all dressed in Inter Miami FC’s black and pink hues. What’s more, Adidas removed crates full of Messi jerseys, soccer balls and more from the ship and loaded them onto trucks, which were then given to fans throughout Miami.

Although he wore the Swoosh before donning the Three Stripes, Messi admitted that Adidas has always had a presence in his life. “Adidas was always present because, since I can remember, the Argentine National Team always wore Adidas in the matches I watched on television when I was a kid,” he said.

As Messi generates more excitement for soccer in the U.S., the fashion that stems from the sport — referred to as “Blokecore” — and the permeation of Terrace culture, born from the attire fans wore in the standing areas in soccer stadiums, has continued to rise.

“Soccer is a sport that crosses all frontiers, carries a common vocabulary and passion,” Messi explained. “It is then logical that fashion is increasing within and around the game of football. The exposure this sport provides leads to massive influence.”

With an assist from Adidas, Messi added his own touch to this trend in late May, creating two pairs of Sambas — a staple shoe of Terrace culture — that are synonymous with Miami fashion, which he described as “vibrant, yet relaxed.”

The looks, which released in the U.S. on May 29, are dressed in the pink and black hues of Inter Miami FC. The predominantly pink look is dubbed “Home,” a nod to the kits the team wears on the Chase Stadium pitch in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and the “Away” colorway is executed in black. The shoes came with a $100 price tag.

Messi, Adidas Samba, Inter Miami FC
The Messi x Adidas Samba in the pink and black hues of Inter Miami FC.

What’s more, Adidas included Messi in its latest soccer campaign, which debuted at the end of May. The effort, Adidas explained, was created to show what’s possible when managing the weight of expectation. It was narrated by David Beckham and was centered around a positive rallying cry, “You Got This.”

And while Messi is clearly a larger-than-life celebrity — and more beloved in the U.S. than ever before — the athlete still has simple goals, mostly when it comes to the type of role model he wants to be for his kids.

“I try to be a normal father. I want them to never give up on their dreams, because in the end, they will have the most desired reward. It is good that they understand that they must value things and earn what they own, and that the need for continued education must always be there.”

About the Author

Peter Verry is the Senior News and Features Editor for Athletic and Outdoor at Footwear News. He oversees coverage of the two fast-paced and ultracompetitive markets, which includes conducting in-depth interviews with industry leaders and writing stories on sneakers and outdoor shoes. He is a lifelong sneaker addict (and shares his newest purchases via @peterverry on Instagram) and spends most of his free time on a trail. He holds an M.A. in journalism from Hofstra University and can be reached at peter.verry@footwearnews.com.

Launch Gallery: Adidas CEO Bjørn Gulden and Lionel Messi: The FN Cover Shoot

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