Another award & more history for Lionel Messi! Argentina & PSG superstar crowned 2023 Laureus World Sportsman of the Year
- Argentine icon now a World Cup winner
- Notable first achieved at prestigious award show
- Decision to be made on future this summer
WHAT HAPPENED? The Argentine icon, who helped his country to World Cup glory at Qatar 2022, has enjoyed another memorable 12 months despite coming in for criticism from the odd disgruntled Paris Saint-Germain supporter. Having become a world champion, allowing him to emulate the achievements of fellow all-time greats such as Diego Maradona and Pele, Messi has landed the FIFA Best Award and been named Sportsman of the Year by Laureus. Argentina won the Team of the Year gong at the latest glitzy gathering in Paris, allowing Messi to become the first man to scoop individual and collective awards in the same year.
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WHAT THEY SAID: Messi said when accepting his personal accolade: “This is a special honour, particularly as the Laureus World Sports Awards are in Paris this year, the city that has welcomed my family since we came here in 2021. I want to thank all my team-mates, not only from the national team but also at PSG – I have achieved none of this alone and I am grateful to be able to share everything with them. I want to thank the Laureus Academy – what makes these Awards so special to us as athletes is the fact that they are voted for by these incredible champions, my heroes, and this puts my sporting achievements in true context. This is the first time I have been the sole winner of the Laureus Sportsman of the Year Award and after a year when we finally won another prize we had been chasing for a long time, at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, it’s an honour to be able to hold this Laureus Statuette.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Messi went on to say of following in some illustrious footsteps: “I was looking at the names of the incredible legends that won the Laureus Sportsman of the Year Award before me: Schumacher, Woods, Nadal, Federer, Bolt, Hamilton, Djokovic… it really sunk in what unbelievable company I’m in and what a unique honour this is. And I am even happier that the team I was a part of at the World Cup have also been recognised by the Laureus Academy tonight. The World Cup was an unforgettable adventure for us, and I can’t describe how it felt to return to Argentina and see what our victory had given to the people of my country. It was an experience I can never forget and I want to thank the Academy for honouring our achievement. I play in a team sport and Argentina won the World Cup because of our team. To be recognised within that team – and to be the first athlete from a team sport to win the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award – is an extraordinary honour. Individual prizes are not the reason we play – but the Laureus World Sports Awards give us a unique opportunity to celebrate what we do alongside great athletes from other sports.”
IN THREE PHOTOS:
WHAT NEXT? With more major honours under his belt, Messi – who returned to PSG training on Monday – must now decide where his future lies for 2023-24, with his contract in the French capital running down towards free agency.