Messi once again makes history as he became the first male footballer to be named the Athlete of the Year by TIME.
TIME Magazine named Lionel Messi as 2023’s Athlete of the Year for 2023.
The new title followed Messi winning an eighth Ballon d’Or award and the Leagues Cup championship at Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami.
“Here was the greatest living soccer player, arguably the best to ever play the world’s most popular game, who last year led Argentina to its first World Cup win in nearly four decades, suiting up for a last-place club in the US,” TIME senior sports correspondent, Sean Gregory, wrote in his profile of Messi announcing the title.
Messi earned this new title around a year after he captained Argentina to victory at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Becoming the first male football player to be named the Athlete of the Year by TIME, Messi joined the likes of Basketball legend LeBron James, gymnastics star Simone Biles, USA Soccer duo Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe, and baseball star Aaron Judge.
Messi’s summer move to MLS shocked the football world as the World Cup champion rejected a reported $1.6 billion offer by Saudi Arabia.
Leaving the pitches of Paris Saint-Germain, Messi’s move to the United States wasn’t about the money, he said.
“If it had been a matter of money, I’d have gone to Arabia or elsewhere. It seemed like a lot of money to me,” Messi told Mundo Deportivo in June. “The truth is that my final decision goes elsewhere and not because of money.”
At Miami, Messi joined the club mid-season to finish with 11 goals in 14 matches.
The team went 8-2-4 in those games; seven matches were on its run to win its first-ever trophy by capturing the Leagues Cup championship.
Before the season could kick off, Inter Miami announced last month that it has sold out its season tickets for 2024.