Messi becomes the first to win individual and team awards at the Laureus Awards
Jamaican printer Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won the Sportswoman prize, while Man United’s Christian Eriksen won Comeback of the Year following his return to football after collapsing on the pitch when representing Denmark during Euro 2020.
Tennis world number two Carlos Alcaraz was awarded World Breakthrough of the Year at the awards, which are voted for by the sporting greats who make up the members of the Laureus Academy.
PSG star Messi – who recently returned to training after landing in hot water with his club for an unsanctioned trip to Saudi Arabia – was in attendance at the awards with his wife.
He became the first person to win both individual and team honours in the same year.
Argentina captain Messi scored seven times and won the Golden Ball during his country’s route to the 2022 World Cup trophy in December.
Messi said: ‘This is a special honour, 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 team-mates, not only from the national team but also at PSG – I have achieved none of this alone and I am grateful to be able to share everything with them.
‘I want to thank the Laureus Academy – what makes these Awards so special to us as athletes is the fact that they are voted for by these incredible champions, my heroes, and this puts my sporting achievements in true context.
‘This is the first time I have been the sole winner of the Laureus Sportsman of the Year Award and after a year when we finally won another prize we had been chasing for a long time, at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, it’s an honour to be able to hold this Laureus Statuette.’
Sprinter Fraser-Pryce won the Sportswoman accolade after becoming the first person to win five golds in an individual track event at the World Athletics Championships after taking glory in the 100m final in July 2022.
At the ceremony, the 36-year-old said: ‘I was thrilled to be nominated alongside such inspiring women athletes, and to win this award, voted for by some of the greatest sportsmen and women of all time, is just amazing.
‘This is the sixth time I’ve been nominated in this category, so to finally hold the Laureus statuette in my hands is one of the greatest honours of my career.’
Manchester United’s Eriksen was awarded with the Comeback prize after making his way back to top level football after suffering a cardiac arrest during a Euro 2020 match in June 2021.
Alcaraz’s rise to the upper echelons of world tennis – in which he won last year’s US Open as a 19-year-old – have also been recognised with the Breakthrough trophy.
Swiss athlete Catherine Debrunner was awarded the Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability prize after winning her first marathon, the 2022 edition of the famous Berlin event.
American-born Chinese freestyle skier Eileen Gu was recognised in the award’s Action category after claiming two gold medals and a silver at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
The Laureus Sport for Good award was given to TeamUp, a programme for displaced children as a result of war.
It was set up by Robert Lewandowski, with the Barcelona and Poland striker also in attendance at Monday’s awards ceremony in Paris, alongside Birgit Van Delft and Ramin Shahzamani, who are representatives from the project.