PSG and Argentine national team striker Lionel Messi has been named the athlete of the year at the Laureus World Sports Awards.
Alongside Messi and Mbappe (football), the nominees for the Athlete of the Year award included Rafael Nadal (tennis), Stephen Curry (basketball), and Max Verstappen (Formula One). The Laureus Award recognizes the most outstanding athletes across a variety of sports, and is often referred to as the “Oscars of sports” or the “champions of champions.”
In addition to the individual award, Messi also represented the Argentine football team in receiving the Team of the Year award. Messi is the first person to receive two awards at the Laureus World Sports Awards.
“This is a special honor, especially since the Laureus World Sports Awards this year are being held in Paris, the city that has welcomed my family since we arrived here in 2021,” Messi said at the awards ceremony. “I want to thank all my teammates, not just in the national team but also at PSG. I couldn’t have achieved this alone. I’m very grateful to be able to share everything with them.”
Messi has now won the World Sportsman of the Year award twice in his career. He first won it in 2020, sharing the award with F1 driver Lewis Hamilton.
Former tennis player Roger Federer still holds the record for winning the World Sportsman of the Year award five times at the Laureus World Sports Awards. Another tennis player, Novak Djokovic, and track and field legend Usain Bolt are tied for second with four wins. Golf legend Tiger Woods, F1 driver Michael Schumacher, tennis player Rafael Nadal, and Messi are tied for third with two wins.
The Laureus World Sports Awards were presented just hours after PSG lifted the ban on Messi’s training. Prior to that, Messi had gone to Saudi Arabia to fulfill a commercial contract without the club’s permission.
PSG officials banned him from training and playing for two weeks. Upon returning from Saudi Arabia, Messi publicly apologized to the club and his teammates, explaining that he had thought there would be a day off after the loss to Lorient. Messi – One of the highest paid sports players had already canceled one trip to Saudi Arabia and could not cancel another.
Messi’s contract with PSG is set to expire in June. If not renewed, he will leave PSG on a free transfer.
Before the Laureus World Sports Awards ceremony, former footballer Claude Makelele said, “That’s an internal club matter. I cannot know what’s going on, but there are many other ways to punish a player internally. It’s Messi’s choice. He has done a lot, and he also has the right to be happy. I hope PSG will keep him. It’s a shame to lose players who bring joy. We need them.”
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the world champion in the 100m sprint, won the Sportswoman of the Year award. A footballer from Man Utd and the Danish national team won a special award after returning to playing following a cardiac arrest.
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