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Messi pledges career to Barcelona

ESPN staff
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Lionel Messi notched a record 50 Primera Division goals for Barcelona in the 2011-12 season © PA Photos
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Lionel Messi claimed last season's record-breaking goals tally was due to the support of his team-mates and Barcelona's board as he received his second career Golden Shoe award on Monday.

Messi was presented with the trophy for Europe's top scorer in the 2011-12 season, when he notched a record 50 Primera Division goals for Barcelona.

The trophy was presented on Monday at a ceremony held at the former Estrella Damm beer factory in Barcelona city, which was attended by club captains Carles Puyol and Xavi Hernandez, as well as Barca president Sandro Rosell, vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu and sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta.

The Argentine attacker, 25, said none of his success would have been possible without the structure behind him at Barcelona.

"Before anything else I want to thank everyone who is here with me," Messi said. "A lot of people have come. Obviously this is a group award. This more than any other, even if it is a prize for scoring goals. Without my team-mates I would not have scored all the goals I managed."

Messi who also won the award for the 2009-10 season, recalled the backing he had received at Barca's La Masia youth academy as a youngster, and said he hoped to spend his full career at the club, before retiring back home to Argentina.

"When I was small, a person at the club told me that for every goal he would give me an alfajor (traditional South American cookie)," he said. "And when I ran onto the pitch to play I was thinking about the cookie. I really appreciate what the club has done for me in giving me the opportunity to fulfil my dream. My dream at the moment is to finish my career here before retiring in Argentina."

With Messi's partner reportedly close to giving birth to the couple's first child, organisers also presented a baby-sized golden bootie along with the main award. The Barca No. 10 hinted he had a new goal celebration planned for when the day came.

"It is probable that from next week I will change the way I celebrate my goals," he said.

Asked to choose his favourite goal of last season, Messi said he could not single one out.

"I do not usually pick out goals," he said. "I prefer to recall the goals in finals for the importance they had. I do not fight for any individual prize, we fight for trophies. My goal is to win again La Liga, the Champions League and the Copa del Rey. These are the objectives at the level of the team."

The award was presented on the day that the 23 man long-list for the 2012 Ballon d'Or was announced. Messi joked that he would have no trouble finding space in his trophy cabinet for another award if he had to.

"We will quickly make a space for a Ballon d'Or or a Golden Shoe if there is another," he said.

Former Barcelona and Spain midfielder Luis Suarez presented the trophy to his former club's current superstar.

"Messi is the essence of football," Suarez said. "There has never been a player fast, skilful and technical who scores so many goals. Until Messi."

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