On Wednesday afternoon in Barcelona, Lionel Messi accepted his Golden Shoe award for the 2018/19 season.
A season that had seen him score 36 goals in 34 La Liga games, as well as three in the Copa del Rey and 12 more in the Champions League, making him the top scorer in the latter competition for the campaign.
With 51 goals in 50 games total, it also saw him score at least 50 in a season for the sixth time in his career.
Not bad for a player who is ostensibly an attacking midfielder!
In the week when his nemesis, Cristiano Ronaldo, managed to net his 700th official goal, thereby starting the usual arguments as to who is better - the Portuguese or the Argentinian - Messi found a way to hog the headlines again, as he so often does.
Anything you can do, I can do better, and all that.
Of course, the rivalry will always exist, and as both players acknowledged at the recent awards for FIFA’s ‘The Best,’ it’s a healthy rivalry, and one that pushes each player and motivates them to continue to do better.
Having edged ahead in the Ballon d’Or/’The Best’/World Player of the Year stakes with his win earlier this year, Messi also now stands alone with a sixth Golden Shoe.
He won his first in the 2009/10 season with 34 goals, in 2011/12 he scored 50 goals and the 2012/13 season saw 46 goals.
The last three Golden Shoes have all come consecutively: 2016/17 (37 goals), 2017/18 (34 goals) and 2018/19 (36 goals).
Ronaldo has four Golden Shoes, with such legends as Gerd Muller, Eusebio, Thierry Henry and Luis Suarez et al way back on two.
It has been said many times in the past that Messi’s achievements don’t get the recognition they deserve because he makes the extraordinary look ordinary.
That’s possibly the best compliment that anyone can pay him.
Looking back across football history, the Blaugrana No.10 is pitting himself against the best strikers to have ever played the game, without actually being a striker himself.
Even if one is to take the view that the likes of Ronaldo, Muller, Jimmy Greaves etc. were better in a striking sense, then one can point to Messi’s prowess as a player that delivers assists as well as scores goals.
He has the record for the most assists in La Liga too.
If he were to continue playing for a couple more seasons, theoretically, he can overhaul Xavi Hernandez’s all-time appearance record for Barcelona (767), Dani Alves’ all-time record for trophies won (39) and Pele’s all-time record for goals scored with one club (643).
To be able to set such standards in the modern era, when football is arguably much more professional than it has ever been and with the quality of the opposition evidently higher, needs to be recognised.
Not cheapened, with throwaway remarks that he ‘couldn’t do it in England,’ by way of just one example.
Though he has always been clear as to his preference to stay with Barcelona, something that he reiterated recently, that cannot be allowed to detract from his achievements.
Six Golden Shoes is, frankly, preposterous.
It’s time to call it as it is.