Barcelona striker Lionel Messi receives Golden Shoe as Europe's top scorer
Barcelona's Argentine star striker Lionel Messi received his third Golden Shoe award on Wednesday as the top league scorer in Europe for his 46 goals in the 2012-2013 season.
The 26-year-old helped Barcelona win the 2012-13 Spanish league despite missing several games with a right hamstring pull near the end of the season. Messi also won the award for 34 goals in 2009-10, and a Spanish record 50 in 2011-12.
At the awards ceremony, Messi, the first player to receive the award three times, shared credit with his Barcelona team mates, Spanish league champions last season and currently leaders of the table.
"This is a beautiful award that goes to the entire squad for what it has done. It is a recognition of the (Barcelona) dressing room and of all that the team has been doing all year," Messi said. "It is a group award more than an individual one because those are a lot of goals. I wouldn't have won it without them, this one or the previous ones."
Messi is currently sidelined with a torn hamstring after limping off during Barcelona's 4-1 win over Real Betis on November 10 -- his fourth injury in a year.
Several teammates, including Cesc Fabregas, Xavi Hernandez and Carles Puyol, along with club president Sandro Rosell were in attendance.
Before his latest injury, he had eight goals in 11 league appearances. After receiving the trophy from former Barcelona star Hristo Stoichkov, Messi said his leg was feeling better while remaining cautious about rushing back.
Several teammates, including Cesc Fabregas, Xavi Hernandez and Carles Puyol, along with club president Sandro Rosell were in attendance. His club said he could be out of action for up to eight weeks.
The Argentina captain said at Wednesday's ceremony that he was "getting better little by little and luckily there is no more pain".
As for his return to action, "it all depends on how things go. I will be back, but I will not put a date on when," he added.
"My aim is to come back and strengthen my whole body so that nothing goes wrong and I can play without worrying."
With 46 goals in 32 league appearances last season, Messi became the first player ever to win three Golden Shoe awards, after bagging it in 2010 and 2012.
He was already the only player to win European football's top individual award, the Ballon d'Or, four times.
Messi has won the world player of the year award an unprecedented four years in a row. He is again nominated this year, but he has tough competition from Real Madrid rival Cristiano Ronaldo and Bayern Munich star Franck Ribery.
Messi has played a major part in Barcelona's impressive run of titles over the past decade. He has won three Champions Leagues, six Spanish leagues, two Copas del Rey, two Club World Cups, six Spanish Super Cups and two European Super Cups. Barcelona's all-time leading scorer, Messi's 65 goals in the Champions League is second to former Madrid striker Raul Gonzalez's 71.