Lionel Messi has been named as Time’s 2023 Athlete of the Year.
Messi continues to win awards. TIME’s announced on Tuesday that the World Cup winner is on the cover of their magazine for winning the award. Messi wins the award for the football influence he has brought over to the United States since joining Inter Miami.
The 36 year old spoke with TIME about not returning to FC Barcelona and rejecting a bid from Saudi Arabia:
“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.
“My first option was to return to Barcelona, but it was not possible. 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. As the country’s tourism ambassador, it was a destination that attracted me, especially because I’ve enjoyed everything I have visited, because of how football is growing in the country and because of the effort they are putting into creating a top competition.
“It was Saudi Arabia or MLS, and both options seemed very interesting to me.”
David Beckham also commented on his reaction to Lionel Messi scoring a free kick against Cruz Azul in his first match for the club:
“I remember getting in the car on the way back, and I said to Victoria, ‘I’m not even sure I can drive home,’ You couldn’t have written it better.”
🚨 Lionel Messi has been named the Time Athlete of the Year! pic.twitter.com/bggPOzAThS— Roy Nemer (@RoyNemer) December 5, 2023