5th December, 2023
By Taiwo Okanlawon
Lionel Messi has been named Time Magazine’s Athlete of the Year for 2023 following his move to the United States to join Major League Soccer side Inter Miami.
The Argentine joins the likes of Simone Biles, Michael Phelps, LeBron James and the United States women’s national team to win the award.
At 36, two decades into his unparalleled career, Messi provided a singular stimulus to soccer in America when he signed with Inter Miami earlier this year. Attendance, ticket prices, merchandise sales, and viewership soared. His games took on the feel of a religious revival.
Former L.A Galaxy star and Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham said he feared the franchise wouldn’t land their marquee player.
“The one that really worried me was Barcelona,” Beckham told Time.
“He never got to say goodbye to the fans, or say goodbye to the club. I explained to him, as a family, the six years we had in L.A. were the best six years that we had.
“People welcomed us with open arms, not just in L.A., but the whole of America.”
“This man is a culture shifter,” says Fat Joe. “He’s a GOAT.”
With the most revered and influential athlete on the planet playing in Miami for at least the next two years, still performing at the top of his game, the U.S. is now a soccer nation. A fútbol nation.
“What I would say to the fans is simply the same thing I said when I arrived,” Messi says. “We are going to have some very good times. We are going to compete to continue lifting trophies and enjoy ourselves.”
Read full article on TIME.