Dirty Tackle

Argentine journalists vote Lionel Messi the country’s third-best athlete of 2012

Sergio Martinez: apparently better than Messi. (Getty)

As fans and members of the press from around the world heap unending praise on Leo Messi for scoring a record 90 goals in 2012, journalists in his own country have decided he was just Argentina's third-best athlete this year.

From the AP:

Argentine boxer Sergio Martinez was awarded the title of "Olimpia de Oro,'' given to the South American country's top athlete in voting by the Circulo de Periodistas - or association of journalists.

Martinez defeated Mexican boxer Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. earlier this year in their WBC title fight.

Barcelona star Messi, who has had a record-breaking year with 90 goals, didn't even finish second in the voting. That went to Sebastian Crismanich, the taekwondo fighter who won Argentina's only gold medal in the London Olympics. Messi finished third.

Messi won the award in 2011, so this could have simply been a case of journalists wanting to recognize other athletes' great achievements. But being more appreciated abroad than in his homeland is nothing new for Lionel. The criticism that has dogged him throughout his career has been that he doesn't play as well for Argentina as he does for Barcelona. This year, however, his performances have started to refute that claim. He has 12 goals in nine appearances for Argentina -- twice as many as his previous best calendar year (and in five fewer matches) -- as they top the (Brazil-exempt) CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying table.