Paris, May 8 (EFE).- Soccer superstar Lionel Messi and the Argentine national soccer team he captained to victory at last year’s World Cup were both honored here Monday evening at the 2023 Laureus World Sports Awards.
Messi won the Sportsman of the Year prize after scoring seven goals and being named the World Cup’s most outstanding player, while the Albiceleste were named Team of the Year.
Messi beat out American basketball superstar Stephen Curry, who led the Golden State Warriors to their fourth NBA title in eight years in 2022; Swedish-American pole vaulter Armand Duplantis; French soccer star Kylian Mbappe, who scored a tournament-high eight goals in leading his team to a World Cup runner-up finish; Spanish tennis legend Rafael Nadal, who set the all-time record for Grand Slam men’s singles titles in 2022 (since tied by Serbian great Novak Djokovic); and Formula One driver Max Verstappen, last year’s winner.
The Argentine squad, which defeated France in penalties in a classic World Cup final in Qatar on Dec. 18, 2022, was chosen over five fellow finalists: the English women’s soccer team, France’s men’s rugby team, the Golden State Warriors, Real Madrid and Oracle Red Bull Racing.
The award organizers noted that Messi made history this year as the only athlete to win the Laureus team and individual honors in the same year since the prizes were first awarded in 2000.
The Argentine striker had won both awards before, being named co-winner of the individual honor in 2020 along with F1 all-time great Lewis Hamilton and also winning the team prize in 2012 as a member of FC Barcelona.
“This is a special honor,” the 35-year-old Paris Saint-Germain forward said. “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 teammates, not only from the national team but also at PSG – I’ve achieved none of this alone, and I’m grateful to be able to share everything with them.”
Jamaican sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, 36, took home the Sportswoman of the Year prize, beating out Spanish soccer star Alexia Putellas, Polish No. 1-ranked tennis player Iga Swiatek, American swimmer Katie Ledecky, American skier Mikaela Shiffrin and American hurdler and sprinter Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone.
Also honored at the ceremony was 20-year-old Spanish tennis sensation Carlos Alcaraz, who was recognized in the World Breakthrough of the Year category for winning the US Open and becoming the youngest player in the history of the ATP rankings to finish the year No. 1. EFE