Lionel Messi has been named sportsman of the year at the Laureus World Sports Awards.
Messi, who finally realized his World Cup dream in Qatar, also collected the Team of the Year award on behalf of Argentina, who beat France on penalties in last year’s epic final.
The 35-year-old accepted the award at a ceremony in Paris just hours after it was confirmed he had returned to Paris Saint-Germain following his club suspension.
Messi, who is the first athlete to win both Laureus awards in the same year, thanked his club and international teammates.
He said: “It is a special honour, especially as this year the Laureus World Sports Awards are being held in Paris, a 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 from PSG – I didn’t achieve any of this alone and I’m grateful to be able to share it all with them.”
Messi apologized for unauthorized trip to Saudi Arabia but his PSG future remains uncertain.
His contract expires this summer and while his two-year deal included an option for a third year, he is expected to leave the club.
Former Chelsea and Real Madrid midfielder Claude Makelele said at the pre-awards event that he disagreed with PSG’s decision to suspend Messi and hoped the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner would stay.
“It’s inside the club so I can’t know what’s going on, but there are other ways to discipline players internally,” Makelele said.
“It is his choice. He has done so much, he also has the right to have fun. I hope Paris will keep him. It is a shame to lose these kind of players who make us happy, we need them.”
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who won the 100m gold medal at the World Athletics Championships, won the Laureus Sportswoman of the Year award, while Manchester United and Denmark footballer Christian Eriksen won a special prize for his comeback after a cardiac arrest. .