Lionel Messi with his mother Celia and with Monica Fein, Mayor of Rosario
Favoured to win his third straight Ballon d’Or on the 9th, the first sports award to be given out this year, Lionel Messi, even if he fails to win it, can certainly still be happy, for towards the end of last year he was finally recognised by his country, Argentina, as its Best Sportsman of the Year. A week later, he was named as the continent’s best European based footballer by Uruguay’s biggest selling newspaper, El Pais. And at the close of the year, he was honoured by his own community, the town of Rosario, in recognition of his contributions in promoting the town’s name through his footballing feats.
On December 30, Messi was bestowed the honorary title of Rosario’s ‘distinguished citizen’, and was named as its ‘ambassador to the world’.
On accepting the award from Rosario’s newly elected mayor, Monica Fein, Messi said, “It is with great pride that I accept this award. I am at a loss for words, and all I can say is thank you.”
“I can only be grateful for an acknowledgement like this from my hometown, the place where I was born, where my people and my family live and which certainly will be my place of residence when I retire from football. And it will be very nice if tourists can come to visit the place where I was born.”
Being named as its ambassador, Messi can certainly help Rosario in its bid to host the 2019 Pan-American Games.
The ceremony was held in the city’s town hall.