The race for the 2018-19 Golden Shoe is approaching a grand finale as the season heads towards a conclusion.
You can see the full breakdown of this season's Golden Shoe contenders by clicking here.
As we wait to find out who will come out on top, Goal takes a look at the European Golden Shoe, its history, the players who won it, how it is awarded and more.
What is the Golden Shoe?
The European Golden Shoe (sometimes referred to as the European Golden Boot) is an award that is given to the player who finishes the season as the leading league scorer of all of Europe's top divisions.
First introduced for the 1967-68 season by French football magazine L'Equipe - who called the award the Soulier d'Or, which translates to 'Golden Shoe' - it is presented on an annual basis.
While conceived by L'Equipe, the responsibility for awarding the Golden Shoe has been the remit of European Sports Media (ESM) - an association of football-themed publications including Marca, La Gazzetta dello Sport and kicker among others - since the 1996-97 season.
How are Golden Shoe points scored?
Since ESM took over the running of the Golden Shoe award in 1996-97, a points system based on league strength has been utilised in order to determine the top scorer.
UEFA's coefficient is the yardstick for points weighting and the idea behind it is to reward players who score goals in leagues that are considered to be of a higher standard - thus more difficult to score in.
Goals scored in the continent's top five leagues being multiplied by a factor of two, those scored in the leagues six to 21 are multiplied by a factor of 1.5 and the remaining leagues by a factor of one.
Golden Shoe winners
You can see a list of Golden Shoe winners since the 1996-97 season, when ESM took over the running of the award, in the table below.
Golden Shoe winners since 1996-97
*Click on the season
|2017-18||Lionel Messi (Barcelona)||34||68|
|2016-17||Lionel Messi (Barcelona)||37||74|
|2015-16||Luis Suarez (Barcelona)||40||80|
|2014-15||Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)||48||96|
|2013-14||Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) & Luis Suarez (Liverpool)||31||62|
|2012-13||Lionel Messi (Barcelona)||46||92|
|2011-12||Lionel Messi (Barcelona)||50||100|
|2010-11||Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)||40||80|
|2009-10||Lionel Messi (Barcelona)||34||68|
|2008-09||Diego Forlan (Atletico Madrid)||42||64|
|2007-08||Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)||31||62|
|2006-07||Francesco Totti (Roma)||26||52|
|2005-06||Luca Toni (Fiorentina)||31||62|
|2004-05||Diego Forlan (Villarreal) & Thierry Henry (Arsenal)||25||50|
|2003-04||Thierry Henry (Arsenal)||30||60|
|2002-03||Roy Makaay (Deportivo La Coruna)||29||58|
|2001-02||Mario Jardel (Sporting)||42||84|
|2000-01||Henrik Larsson (Celtic)||35||52.5|
|1999-00||Kevin Phillips (Sunderland)||30||60|
|1998-99||Mario Jardel (Porto)||36||72|
|1997-98||Nikos Machlas (Vitesse Arnhem)||34||68|
As well as the above winners, players to have scooped the accolade prior to 1996-97 include Eusebio, Gerd Muller, Hugo Sanchez, Marco van Basten, Ian Rush and Hristo Stoichkov.
Notably, the award was not given out between 1991-92 and 1995-96, following a dispute with the Cyprus Football Association in 1990-91 over who the rightful winner was. Red Star Belgrade's Darko Pancev, who scored 34 goals that season, was later presented with the Golden Shoe in 2006.
You can see the full list of winners from 1967-68 on the ESM website.
Who has won the most Golden Shoe awards?
It will come as little surprise to most football fans that Lionel Messi has won the most Golden Shoe awards. The Barcelona star has secured the prize on five occasions (2009-10, 2011-12, 2012-13, 2016-17, 2017-18).
No prizes for guessing that Messi's perennial rival Cristiano Ronaldo follows the Argentina international with four Golden Shoes, which were won across his time with Real Madrid (2010-11, 2013-14, 2014-15) and Manchester United (2007-08).
After Messi and Ronaldo, no player comes close, with only a handful of players managing to clinch the trophy more than once. Thierry Henry, Luis Suarez, Diego Forlan, Eusebio and Gerd Muller all won it twice, as did Mario Jardel, Fernando Gomes and Dudu Georgescu. Former Rangers striker Ally McCoist finished as Europe's top scorer in 1991-92 and 1992-93, but did so during a time when the award was not deemed official.
Golden Shoe trophy
The trophy for the Golden Shoe is, unsurprisingly, a golden shoe or, more accurately, a golden football boot on a stone base.
Designs have changed over the years but the current trophy appears to have been based on the famous Adidas Predator style of boots, specifically the Predator Precision edition.