Lionel Messi named Time’s Athlete of the Year 2023

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Lionel Messi

NEW YORK, Dec 6: Lionel Messi, the renowned Argentine captain, has been honored as Time magazine’s Athlete of the Year for 2023, marking a remarkable achievement following his eighth Ballon d’Or win. His impact extended beyond the football field with a pivotal role in elevating the sport’s profile in the U.S., courtesy of his move to Inter Miami.

In a notable triumph, Messi played a crucial part in leading Argentina to their first World Cup title in 36 years, securing victory against defending champions France in the final last December. Despite numerous enticing offers upon leaving Paris St Germain earlier this year, the 36-year-old chose to join Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami, rejecting potential returns to Barcelona and a lucrative move to Saudi side Al-Hilal.

Reflecting on his decision, Messi shared, “The truth is that fortunately, I had several options on the table that were interesting, and I had to analyze them and think, even weigh them up with my family, before making the final decision to come to Miami,” as conveyed to Time.

Messi’s arrival at Inter Miami saw immediate success, contributing 10 goals in seven Leagues Cup appearances, propelling the team to victory in a tournament featuring MLS and Mexican teams. Beyond the field, Messi’s presence generated significant off-pitch ripples, causing a surge in searches for match dates and tickets, with fans enthusiastically purchasing his official pink Inter Miami shirt.

The impact was not confined to spectator interest alone; ticket prices for Inter Miami games soared, and Apple TV, in a decade-long partnership with the MLS, experienced a notable uptick in subscriptions, according to research firm Antenna. “Messi managed to do what once seemed impossible: turning the U.S. into a soccer country,” noted Time.

This prestigious accolade adds Messi to the list of recent winners, including Simone Biles, LeBron James, and the United States women’s soccer team. Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees clinched the award in 2022.

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