Lionel Messi speaks in Tokyo: Inter Miami star explains injury, failed Hong Kong match

Inter Miami's Lionel Messi speaks during a press conference ahead of his team's friendly soccer match against Vissel Kobe in Tokyo.
Inter Miami's Lionel Messi speaks during a press conference ahead of his team's friendly soccer match against Vissel Kobe in Tokyo.

Inter Miami star Lionel Messi had a rare speaking engagement in Tokyo on Tuesday, when he addressed the injury that kept him out of a match in Hong Kong displeasing fans and local officials.

Messi has a hip adductor injury he suffered in the first of two matches in Saudi Arabia last week. Although an MRI found no injury, Messi said he still experienced discomfort. Messi said the injury was an "unlucky" situation, and hopes to play again in Hong Kong if the opportunity arises.

As for Wednesday’s match in Tokyo against Vissel Kobe, Messi says he feels much better and is eager to play, but must reevaluate after Tuesday’s practice.

More important, Messi wants to go home. Inter Miami traveled to El Salvador and Dallas before hitting Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong and Tokyo in the last two weeks.

"I’m a little tired from this whole tour, (I have) a desire to finish up the last game and to return home," Messi said during a news conference.

When is Messi’s next match in Tokyo?

Messi and Inter Miami will face Japanese champions Vissel Kobe on Wednesday at 5 a.m. ET at Japan National Stadium in Tokyo.

Messi, David Beckham booed during as Inter Miami in Hong Kong

Messi said he really wanted to play in Hong Kong, and participated in the practice with local children in front of fans.

Fans became restless in Inter Miami’s 4-1 win over a group of Hong Kong All-Stars as the second half lingered and Messi continued to watch from the bench in Inter Miami clothes. Messi, David Beckham and Inter Miami were serenaded with boos at Hong Kong Stadium on Sunday, one day after they participated during a training session in front of a sold-out crowd.

After the match, the Hong Kong Government released a statement, expressing "extreme disappointment" for Messi’s absence. Event promoter Tatler said Monday it urged Inter Miami to make Messi available to play, but were informed in the second half he would not be available.

What Messi said about not playing in Hong Kong

"The truth is that it was bad luck that I couldn’t be present on the day of the match in Hong Kong," Messi said.

"In the first game of the tour in Saudi Arabia I felt discomfort in my adductor and that’s why I left the match. In the second game I played the minutes I played to test myself, to see what sensations I had and how I felt because I had an MRI done and the results showed that I had swelling in the adductor, but there was no injury. That’s why I tried.

"Then we went to Hong Kong and we were in the open training and I was present because of the number of people there and because there was also a clinic with kids and I wanted to be present and participate. But the truth is that the discomfort was still there and it made it very difficult for me to play.

"Unfortunately, it is something that happens in football, in any game it can happen that we get injured. It happened to me and I couldn’t be in the game in Hong Kong and it’s a shame because I always want to participate, I want to be there, and even more so when it comes to these types of games where we traveled so far and people were so excited to watch us play. I hope we can return and we can play another game in Hong Kong and I can be present as I do whenever I can, but the truth is that it is a shame that I was not able to participate.

"(Tuesday) in the afternoon we are going to train, the first training session has already happened, and I am going to test how I’m feeling again. The truth is that I feel better in comparison to the past days, and depending on how it goes I will see if I play. If I’m honest, I still don’t know if I will be able to or not, but I feel much better, and I really want to be able to play."

Lionel Messi injury timeline: What led to Messi’s hip adductor injury?

Jan. 29: Messi scored on a penalty kick and played to the 88th minute against Saudi powerhouse Al Hilal last Monday, where he first experienced the injury.

Jan. 31: Messi practiced with Inter Miami, one day before Al Nassr match, leading to the MRI evaluation.

Feb. 1: Messi did not start, but came on as a substitute against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al Nassr. He entered in the 83rd minute and played through six minutes of extra time conservatively.

Feb. 3: Messi ran around Hong Kong Stadium and participated in some light workouts with Inter Miami teammates.

Feb. 4: Messi was listed as a substitute on Inter Miami’s roster for the Hong Kong match, but Inter Miami did not list him on their roster published on social media. He did not play.

What is Inter Miami’s upcoming schedule?

Inter Miami returns home after its match in Tokyo on Wednesday.

One week later, it will host its final preseason match against Argentine club Newell’s Old Boys, Messi’s hometown team, on Feb. 15 at DRV PNK Stadium.

Inter Miami begins the 2024 MLS regular season at home against Real Salt Lake on Feb. 21, and will travel to face the Los Angeles Galaxy on Feb. 25.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Lionel Messi speaks: What Messi said in Tokyo about Hong Kong match?