Lionel Messi has been named Sportsman of the Year at the Laureus World Sport Awards, while he was also part of the Team of the Year award with his World Cup-winning Argentina colleagues.
Messi is the first person in the 23-year history of the global awards that covers all sport to win both the individual prize and also the team prize in the same year.
The Paris Saint-Germain superstar shared the 2020 Sportsman of the Year award with Lewis Hamilton, but it is usually won by people who compete in individual sports like tennis, motor racing, golf and athletics. Messi is the only footballer to date to win.
Team of the Year is quite frequently won by football clubs or international sides, with Argentina scooping the 2023 accolade in the wake of their World Cup triumph late last year. Italy were named Team of the Year in 2022, while it was Bayern Munich in 2021 and France in 2019.
Messi was also previously part of a Team of the Year success in 2012 when Barcelona won it following their 2011 Champions League triumph.
The 35-year-old described his Sportsman of the Year nod as 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,” he added.
“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.”
But Messi will almost certainly not remain a PSG player beyond the end of this season. He has been determined to return to Barcelona, while an unauthorised recent trip to Saudi Arabia, where clubs also keenly want him, has seen his relationship with PSG hit a rock – he was suspended for two weeks but this was cut short after seven days.
Barcelona are having to work hard to make sure that any contract offer would comply with the strict La Liga financial regulations that forced his exit from Camp Nou in the first place, which could open the door to rival proposals from Saudi Arabia if they cannot make the numbers work.