TIME magazine honoured Messi with the prestigious annual award on Tuesday, as a reward for his stellar year at both club and international level. Messi, who inspired Argentina to glory at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, left Paris Saint-Germain in June after picking up a second successive Ligue 1 winners’ medal, and went on to accept a new challenge in MLS with Inter Miami. Messi has made an instant impact in the U.S., helping Miami win their first trophy in the form of the inaugural Leagues Cup, and he was also presented with his record-extending eighth Ballon d’Or in November.
Messi saw off competition from a host of top athletes to win the TIME award, including footballing rivals Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe. Tennis icon Novak Djokovic was also in the running after an outstanding 2023 season that saw him win the Australian Open, French Open and US Open, as he came agonisingly close to completing a calendar grand slam. MLB all-star Aaron Judge won the award last year, with Messi also joining the likes of Simone Biles and LeBron James in the sporting hall of fame after adding yet another award to his collection.
Messi has hit 11 goals in his first 14 games for Inter Miami, who have seen an influx of celebrity guests at DRV PNK Stadium since the Argentine’s arrival in MLS, including Serena Williams and Kim Kardashian. Miami’s social following has also soared thanks to the 36-year-old, and record-breaking ticket and replica shirt sales have been posted as fans scramble to watch one of the greatest players of his generation in action.