Argentine football legend Lionel Messi clinched the prestigious TIME’S Athlete of the Year award for the year 2023, outshining tennis ace Novak Djokovic in the race for the honor.
Messi's recognition comes on the heels of his impactful debut with Inter Miami in Major League Soccer last summer, where his arrival coincided with the team's struggle at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings.
Despite this challenging start, Messi's impact was transformative, leading Inter Miami to secure their first-ever trophy by winning the League Cup in August. The 36-year-old showcased his goal-scoring prowess by netting ten goals in seven games during the campaign.
Notably, Messi's acknowledgment by TIME marks a historic moment as he becomes the first individual soccer player to receive the coveted Athlete of the Year award, a distinction previously claimed by the US Women’s National Team in 2019.
This accolade joins Messi's impressive collection of recent titles and awards, including his triumph in the World Cup and his eighth Ballon d’Or secured in October. The TIME Athlete of the Year award places Messi in the esteemed company of past individual recipients like LeBron James, Simone Biles, and Aaron Judge.