Lionel Messi's opponents didn't need for him to have any more motivation to be a better athlete and goal-scorer, but that's just what he got this week.
The Argentinian was beat out for his native country's Sportsman of the Year award, according to a USA Today report. He finished behind 37-year-old boxer Sergio Martinez, who won the award after winning the WBC middleweight title earlier this year.
Messi didn't even win second place. He was beaten out for that, too, by Sebastian Crismanich, a taekwondo fighter who won a gold medal in the London Olympics.
Arguably the world's best football player finished third in his own country's top athlete award. It's unfathomable. Even in the U.S., where soccer is far from a marquee sport, a feat like this would be heralded.
Throw out all of the statistics and record-breaking feats that Messi produced this season, if only for a moment. We're frankly talking about the undisputed best soccer player in Argentina, which is a nation that prides itself on the sport.
This isn't to diminish the feats of Martinez and Crismanich. Winning any sort of boxing title at the age of 37 is a feat in itself, especially when it's one of the most prestigious titles in boxing. For Crismanich's sake, winning a gold medal speaks for itself.
But nothing that either of these athletes did trumped what Messi was able to accomplish in 2012. Not even close.
Messi's 90 goals in the 2012 calendar year (with one game remaining) were more than any footballer in the sport's history, topping Gerd Muller's 85-goal campaign more than 40 years ago. Such a season has allowed many journalists and soccer greats to dub him as the greatest of all-time, even at just 25 years of age.
So, you're telling me that a feat that has many placing him as the sport's all-time great can't even allow him to win his nation's top athlete award? It can't even get a second-place finish?
If Messi cares about trophies and awards, he's certainly fuming. Added motivation is the last thing he needed, but it could turn into more production for the Barcelona star.
Who knows, maybe he'll shrug it off and downplay it.
But if he takes it to heart, don't be surprised if he comes out and hits the century mark in goals next calendar year.
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