Lionel Messi wins Golden Boot
BARCELONA, Spain -- Lionel Messi has been presented with the Golden Boot award for being the top scorer in European domestic leagues last season.
The Argentine forward received the prize Thursday after scoring 34 league goals to help Barcelona retain its Spanish La Liga title.
Messi joined Marco van Basten, Ronaldo and Cristiano Ronaldo as the only players to win the three major individual awards: the Golden Boot, FIFA Player of the Year and the Golden Ball, given to Europe's top player.
Chelsea's Didier Drogba and Udinese's Antonio di Natale were tied for second place with 29 goals apiece.
Luis Suarez scored 35 goals last season for Ajax in the Netherlands but failed to win due to the points system that compensates for the degree of difficulty posed by the major European leagues: England, Spain, Italy, Germany and France.
Messi had failed to score a single goal at the World Cup in South Africa. Even so, former Argentina coach Diego Maradona said Wednesday that Messi deserved the award and hoped he would "win many more."
Messi is the second Barcelona player to be honored by European Sports Magazine. Ronaldo earned the club's first Golden Boot by scoring 34 goals in the 1996-97 season.
Barcelona captain Carles Puyol applauded Messi's ability and character.
"He is the best in the world, but he is humble. He improves every day," Puyol said before the awards ceremony. "He is the best player in the world and he demonstrated that he deserves this award."
Messi has scored two goals in three games in the Spanish league this season.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press