Argentina forward, Lionel Messi has been named the athlete of the year by America-based Time managzine.
Messi joined Miami from PSG in July and scored 11 goals in 14 games in all competitions to help the Major League Soccer (MLS) club lift the Leagues Cup, their first ever trophy.
The 36-year-old had helped Argentina win the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and hence won the Ballon d’Or for the eighth time in October.
“Lionel Messi this year managed to do what once seemed impossible, when he signed with Inter Miami: turning the US into a soccer country,” read Time.
Time magazine said Messi’s arrival in the United States had driven a surge in attendances, ticket prices, merchandise sales and viewership of MLS games.
The striker joins the likes of gymnast Simone Biles, swimmer Michael Phelps and NBA superstar LeBron James in winning the award.
Messi had trouble choosing the club he wanted to move to during his ending days at Paris St-Germain. He had options of returning to Barcelona, or moving to Saudi Arabia, but it ended up being Miami.
“My first option was to return to Barcelona, but it was not possible,” he told Time. “I tried to return, and it did not happen.
“It is also true that later I was thinking a lot about going to the Saudi league, where I know the country and they have created a very powerful competition that can become an important league in the near future.
“It was Saudi Arabia or MLS, and both options seemed very interesting to me.”
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