Argentina’s World Cup-winning captain Lionel Messi has been named BBC Sports Personality’s World Sport Star of the Year for 2022.
Messi, 35, led Argentina to their first World Cup triumph in 36 years in Qatar. The Paris St-Germain forward won the tournament’s Golden Ball – awarded to the best player – after scoring seven goals at his fifth World Cup.
The former Barcelona star is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest footballers of all-time. Messi scored twice in the World Cup final and also converted a penalty in the shootout as Argentina beat holders France 4-2 on penalties following a thrilling 3-3 draw.
It meant he added football’s biggest prize to a list of trophies that includes seven Ballons d’Or titles – awarded to the best footballer each year – four Champions Leagues, one Copa America, 10 La Liga titles with Barcelona and a Ligue 1 crown with PSG.
In addition, he has scored a staggering 793 goals in his career. “It’s everyone’s dream when they’re little. I’ve been lucky enough to achieve everything and what I was missing, I found here,” Messi said after lifting the World Cup on Sunday.
With Paris St-Germain, Messi won a first French title in April and since the 2022-23 campaign began in August, has scored 12 times and provided 14 assists in 19 club appearances.
Messi will turn 39 during the next World Cup in 2026 and had hinted previously the finals in Qatar would be his last. If it was, it truly was the perfect way to end his international career following Argentina’s Copa America victory last year.
He does not plan to retire from the national team just yet, saying after lifting the World Cup that he would like “to continue by experiencing a few more games as a world champion”.
The BBC World Sport Star of the Year is awarded by a panel to the athlete who has achieved the most notable sporting success on the world stage during the course of the year.
The 2021 winner was Irish jockey Rachael Blackmore.