BARCELONA - Barcelona's Lionel Messi picked up his third Golden Shoe award in the Catalan capital on Wednesday and promised to come back even stronger in 2014 following his injury problems this year.
Messi was handed the prize after finishing as the highest league scorer in all of Europe in 2012-13, but admitted his priority now is to get fit for action and return to his very best.
"My aim is to come back even stronger," the Argentine attacker told a packed audience at the old Damm brewery in Barcelona. "I am working hard to strengthen my body and I hope to be free from injury when I return."
The 26-year-old has suffered four muscle injuries this year and is now sidelined with a hamstring problem which is set to keep him out until early next year.
"I haven't put any date on my return," he said. "It depends on how things go and when the time is right, I will come back."
Messi scored 50 league goals last season to claim his latest individual prize, and added: "It's a very special prize and recognition for what the team have been doing over the last few years - I dedicate it to the people I love.
"[But] the Golden Shoe wasn't my priority when I was in good shape and is even less so now. My focus is on returning [from injury]."