The Laureus World Sports Award is an annual sports award that honours both individuals and teams from the sporting world for their achievements over the past year.

Established in 1999 by Laureus Sport for Good founding patrons Daimier and Richemont, the term ‘Laureus’ is derived from the Greek word laurel which is considered a traditional symbol for victory in athletics.

This award’s programmes look to channel the power of sports to bring an end to discrimination, disadvantages, and violence, thereby highlighting the power of sports to change the world.

Golfer Tiger Woods was the first-ever recipient of the Laureus World Sports Award in the men’s categories and there have been plenty of different recipients of the prestigious award since.

Football superstar Lionel Messi won the Laureus World Sports Award for men in 2023 after leading the Argentina football team to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Messi is the only footballer to have ever won this prestigious award across the men’s and women’s categories.

He also shared the 2020 edition of the Laureus Award with F1 driver Lewis Hamilton, making him not just the only footballer to win the award but also a two-time recipient of the award.

No footballer has ever won the Laureus Award in the sportswoman category, however, there have been plenty of winners from the world of football in the other categories of the award.

The likes of Manchester United, the France national football team, the Brazil national football team, the Greece national football team, the Italy national football team, the Spain national football team, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, the Germany national football team, and the Argentina national football team have all won the award for the best team of the year category.

The Italy and Frace national football teams, in fact, have won the award twice for triumphant FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro campaigns. Among clubs, German giants Bayern Munich are the only team to have won the Team of the Year award twice.

Another category where footballers have been the recipient of the Laureus Award is the Comeback of the Year category, which recognises extraordinary sporting returns by athletes who have overcome great adversity.

Two football players have won the Laureus Award for Comeback of the Year. These players are Brazilian World Cup winner Ronaldo and Denmark midfielder Christian Eriksen.

While Ronaldo won the award after recovering from a near career-ending and leading Brazil to their fifth World Cup title in 2002, Christian Eriksen won it after making a return to football after suffering a cardiac arrest on a football pitch.

During a match in UEFA Euro 2020, Denmark’s Christian Eriksen collapsed on the field after suffering a cardiac arrest. After intense treatment on the pitch, the Dane was revived and made a successful return to football as demonstrated by the fact that he’s a vital cog in the midfield of football giants Manchester United.

Laureus Award football winners

Laureus Award for Sportsman of the Year

Year Sportsman of the Year
2020 Lionel Messi
2023 Lionel Messi

Laureus Award for Team of the Year

Year Team of the Year
2000 Manchester United
2001 France
2003 Brazil
2005 Greece
2007 Italy
2011 Spain
2012 FC Barcelona
2014 Bayern Munich
2015 Germany
2019 France
2021 Bayern Munich
2022 Italy
2023 Argentina

Laureus Award for Comeback of the Year

Year Comeback of the Year
2003 Ronaldo
2023 Christian Eriksen

Photo credit: Alamy