February 27, 2013
He may often be described as ‘diminutive’ in stature, but his football ability is nothing but immense. And in 2012, more so than ever, Lionel Messi confirmed his place as the most gifted player of the modern game.
Capable of single-handedly breaking down defences and making the most of even the slimmest of opportunities provided by teammates, Messi proved a goal-scoring machine in 2012.
In all competitions he scored an unbelievable 91 goals in the 2012 calendar year, destroying the 40 year-old goal tally record of 85 set by German Gerd Muller in 1972.
In the 2011/12 season, which includes some of the Laureus Award qualifying year, he scored 73 goals. 14 of these came in the UEFA Champions League, making him the lead goal scorer in the competition for the fourth year in a row. And demonstrating his importance to other teammates, he racked up 29 assists for his FC Barcelona colleagues across all competitions.
It's no surprise he was named the 2012 FIFA Footballer of the Year last month. It was also the fourth consecutive year he had won the honour.
Now he is up for the biggest individual award in world sport: the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year Award.
But nominated alongside Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, Mo Farah, Bradley Wiggins and Sebastian Vettel, he faces stiff competition for glory here. Nevertheless, Laureus Academy Member and football legend Marcel Desailly believes he could still be the first team sportsman to take the Award.
Desailly said: “He is just extraordinary, a phenomenon. Many footballers have great seasons, but Messi just keeps producing them year after year. His opponents know how dangerous he is, but they just cannot find a way to stop him scoring. He is without doubt the greatest player of this generation, and as a goalscorer one of the greatest players of all time. And we should remember that he has achieved all this by the time he is 25. Who knows what he can achieve by the time he stops playing. Even now, I would put him in the same class as di Stefano, Cruyff, Maradona and Pelé.”
Messi had an incredible 2012, with the stats to prove it, but has he done enough to beat Olympic heroes and a three-time Formula One champion to the Laureus Award?
Do you think Messi should be the winner on March 11 in Rio?
Let us know why in the comments below!