The Argentina national team returns after the World Cup (video editing: Nir Chen)
A whole career, Lionel Messi chased after the greatest achievement of all, and in 2022 he also achieved it when he led the Argentine national team to a miraculous victory in the World Cup.
Therefore, it is not surprising that surfers of Walla!
Sport chose him as the athlete of the year, by a huge margin from the competitors, after over a hundred thousand votes.
The World Cup was the pinnacle moment of the wonderful footballer, who already had many records.
After the loss in the opening game to Saudi Arabia, and with the pressure of an entire country (perhaps even an entire world) on his shoulders, Messi stood up to the challenge time and time again, first in the group stage and then in the knockout stage.
In the unforgettable final against France, he provided a few more moments of magic, which made his fairy tale a reality.
The win not only established him as the best footballer in history, by and large.
Quite a few commentators, athletes and former athletes have estimated that this is now also the best athlete of all time - yes, greater than Muhammad Ali, for example, Michael Jordan and Roger Federer.
We will leave this discussion for another time.
"It's just unbelievable," he said after hoisting the World Cup.
"I knew that God would give me the cup, I was convinced of it. We are all happy. It was my dream for a long time, I wanted to close this chapter in my career with a World Cup. I couldn't ask for more. It's crazy, we wanted it and this beautiful thing happened" .
Even if you take the World Cup out of the equation, Messi, who received 70 percent of your votes, delivered a not bad year at all - albeit a little less dominant by his standards.
The Flea finished 2022 with 35 goals and 30 assists in all formats (in Paris Saint-Germain and the Argentina national team), in 51 games.
No one can over him.
Messi (Photo: GettyImages, Visionhaus)
The rest of the list
2. Kylian Mbappe - 17%
The flea was far ahead of the vice-champion of the world, who, if he had finished this unforgettable final with a win, would surely have gained many more votes, and probably also beat Messi.
Be that as it may, Mbappe showed in Qatar that he is not only the player of the future of world football, but also the player of the present - an unusually dominant footballer, who is still going to break many records.
3. Karim Benzema - 5%
Someone who unfortunately was not at the World Cup, due to an injury he suffered just before the opening match.
Either way, his wonderful year at Real Madrid was not forgotten by the voters, and it's a good thing.
4. Stephen Curry - 3%
In any normal year, one can only assume that one of the NBA's favorite superstars, who led his team to a very exciting championship win, would have been ranked much higher.
But 2022 was not an ordinary year.
5. Armand Duplantis - 2%
True, he's only 23 years old, but the Swedish pole vaulter continues to establish himself as one of the greatest athletes we've seen, no less.
During the year he managed to improve the world records he set himself and win gold medals at the World Championship and the European Championship.
Hard to ask for more.
6. Rafael Nadal - 2%
The bull from Mallorca is already 36 years old, his knees are not what they used to be, yet, he finished the past year with two Grand Slams - in Australia, and then at Roland Garros, which he loves so much, bringing his number of wins to 22 - more than any other tennis player.
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Don't worry, kid, your whole career is still ahead of you.
Mbappe (Photo: GettyImages)
In the women's division it was much closer, but in the end your athlete of the year is Sydney McLaughlin, the great American athlete who won two gold medals in Tokyo, and looks like a favorite to win several more in Paris as well.
In 2022, McLaughlin won two gold medals at the World Championships (400 meter hurdles, 4x400), and most importantly - broke the world record in the 400 meter hurdles, when she set it at 50.68 seconds - all this, at only 23 years old.
McLaughlin (Photo: GettyImages)
You are not alone: McLaughlin, who won 26% of the vote, was also chosen as the World Olympic Committee's female athlete of the year.
In our poll, she was ahead of Beth Mead (24%), who led the England team to win Euro 2022, and also Iga Shabiontek (22%), who won two Grand Slams this year.
The never-ending Yulimar Rojas won 13%, Tobi Amusan 8% and Aja Wilson 7%.