There were times when it seemed like David Beckham was the only one who believed in his Miami dream.
The local government wasn't cooperating, the support just wasn't there, the stadium situation was a disaster. Most that follow MLS had all but given up hope at one point or another and even Beckham himself admits there were moments of doubt along the way.
But that belief, that dream, that idea, will come together the moment Inter Miami, somewhat improbably, takes the field on Sunday. The road was longer and significantly more complicated than he expected but that process, with all of its false starts and setbacks, will now finally turn into something real.
"Without a doubt, I knew that it was always going to be a challenge because this was my first time stepping into this situation," Beckham said at a media roundtable on Wednesday. "I was excited. I knew that it was going to be a challenge, but I didn't realize how big of a challenge.
"I've said it many times... that I thought that when I announced, seven years ago, two years will be up and we'll be playing in our own stadium and own facility.
"So yes, it's probably been the hardest thing I've done... but sometimes the hardest things in life are the most difficult to get going. And that's how I look at this."
MLS announced in 2014 that Beckham would be awarded a franchise in Miami. It took six years for that franchise to come together.
Since Beckham's original announcement, Orlando City, New York City FC, Atlanta United, Minnesota United, Los Angeles FC, and FC Cincinnati all joined the league as expansion teams. Many of those clubs leapfrogged the Manchester United legend due to a variety of delays and false starts.
By all accounts, Beckham's MLS ownership dream looked dead in the water on more than one occasion. It took four years to secure a stadium deal, with Miami officials driving a hard bargain with the former England captain. By 2017, Beckham's project needed more financial muscle, and he got it with Marcelo Claure and Masayoshi Son, while brothers Jorge and Jose Mas were also added to the ownership group.
But the road to Inter Miami didn't truly begin in 2014. It didn't begin with the 2017 ownership deals or the 2018 stadium deal. That road began the moment Beckham came to MLS in 2007 and changed the league forever. If it wasn't for Beckham's persistence, there would be no Inter Miami. And if it wasn't for Beckham's ambition, there certainly would not be an MLS that resembles the one we see today.
"It's very difficult to compare," he said. "When I first moved to LA in 2007, the excitement of me playing in a different league, playing in a different team in a league that had not been around for many years, that was a challenge and exciting for me. To be able to live in the U.S, it was exciting for me personally and for my family. To be welcomed the way we did was incredible.
"The league, without doubt, has gone on to a whole different level from that moment to now, but that's from the vision of the commissioner [Don Garber], the vision of this team and the hard work that's been done over those years. I also think that it's the investment the other owners and other franchises have done as well to make this league what it is now, to be able to bring the players that have played in this league over last five to 10 years, to have the insight to be able to create something like that to grow this league."
Beckham is now the latest owner tasked with growing the league and, like everything he does, there's an excitement that tends to follow. Miami is expected to court big names, sign big stars and, most of all, be a big club. There was never a chance that Inter Miami would be just another club. Beckham wouldn't allow it.
Somewhat fittingly, Inter Miami's first-ever match will take place in Los Angeles, the city Beckham made his own when he moved to MLS in 2007. With that move, he was promised the chance to own his own team someday, the possibility of creating something unique in his own image. It was an opportunity and a situation unlike any this sport has ever seen - and Beckham is aiming to build a club unlike any MLS has ever seen.
For years, it looked like a thankless task as Inter Miami faced setback after setback. But, in Beckham's eyes it was all worth it. That belief has turned into something tangible: a club that he expects will push the limits of what MLS has to offer.
"I know that every moment where I doubted whether it was going to happen or not, this weekend is our reward for the perseverance, or the stubbornness as my wife calls it, and the tenacity to continue to know that this was the right thing to do."
Strap yourselves in - Beckham-mania is about to hit MLS again.