The Barcelona attacker is the first athlete from a team game to win the award, which is determined by a group of former sports legends.
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi and Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton became the first joint-winners of the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year on Monday.
Messi and Hamilton were flat on votes made by former sports legends that are members of the Laureus Academy.
Argentina global Messi motivated Barca into a 26th La Liga title last season with 36 goals in 34 appearances, form that got him a record sixth Ballon d’Or. He’s netted 19 in 27 games this term.
Mercedes driver Hamilton was crowned F1 world champion for the sixth time in 2019, putting him second only to Michael Schumacher on the all-time record.
Hamilton was in Berlin to collect his award in person, while Messi — the first person from a group game to claim the prize — delivered a video message.
“I want to thank the Academy for giving me this recognition. The simple truth is that this is a crucial and distinctive award,” stated the 32-year-old Argentina celebrity.
“I’m honored to be the first to win this award being a sportsperson coming out of a team game and not an individual game, which is ordinarily the case. Thank you very much.
“For me it is an enormous delight to be a part of the award and the first team participant to get it. Needless to say, I want to thank my team-mates, my loved ones and the fans who support me. Thanks to them this sort of individual recognition is possible.”
The group collected more votes than fellow contenders Rafael Nadal, Marc Marquez, Tiger Woods and Eliud Kipchoge.
Gymnast Simone Biles was named Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year, has been the most decorated gymnast in world championship history and helped the United States into a fifth group name.
Cross-country skier Oksana Masters was handed the World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability award.
South Africa men’s rugby union side, who won the World Cup in 2019, were chosen as the group of the year.
The other important winners were cyclist Egan Bernal (breakthrough), racing driver Sophia Florsch (comeback) and basketball player Dirk Nowitzki (lifetime achievement award).