Lionel Messi has said that he never thought it was possible to be so successful in his Barcelona career after winning the European Golden Shoe for a record fifth time.
Despite being overlooked for the 2018 Ballon d'Or, Messi has enjoyed another wonderful year, having helped Barca to another La Liga crown in the 2017-18 campaign.
He scored 34 times in 36 games on the way to inspiring that title triumph, a record not matched across Europe's top leagues as he secured yet another Golden Shoe.
Messi, 31, was presented with the prize for a fifth time – usurping Cristiano Ronaldo's tally of four – on Tuesday and it offered him the opportunity to reflect on his expectations as a youngster.
"I did not expect this when I started," Messi said at the event. "My professional dream was to be able to succeed in football, I never imagined this.
"I enjoy my work, the effort and, above all, the team-mates. I'm in the best team in the world, I have the best team-mates in the world in their positions and that makes everything easier getting these awards.
"Thanks to God I feel very good physically and emotionally. The years go by and I try to take care of myself, as I have done my whole career, and more, because the games are increasingly demanding."
The Argentine shone at the weekend in scintillating 5-0 Barcelona win over Levante, scoring three goals and assisting the other two.
The hat-trick means that Messi has now scored three or more goals on 49 occasions in his career, and mean that he was the first player in Europe to register 50 strikes in the 2018 calendar year.
The win also helped to ensure that Barca maintain their three point lead at the top of La Liga, with Sevilla being their closes challengers in second.
Ernesto Valverde’s side will now face a favourable draw in the last 16 as they come up against Lyon when the competition resumes in 2019.