The Trofeo Pichichi is awarded by sports newspaper Marca to the top goal scorer of each La Liga season in Spain since the 1952-53 season. Since its introduction, formidable names have made it to the list and the rivalry continues between 2 of the biggest clubs in Spain for this trophy as well. Real Madrid has had 13 players winning the Pichichi a total of 27 times, while FC Barcelona has 11 players winning it for 18 times as record stand till date.
Records are made to be broken, aren’t they? With the evolution of the beautiful game, rising talents and legends of the game across the globe want to be part of the big leagues in Europe. La Liga can be easily be considered as one of those leagues, and yes, it is very visible that the best footballers of the planet have played in Spain at some point in their career. Yesteryear stars of Real Madrid, Alfredo di Stefano and Hugo Sanchez held the bragging rights of winning the Pichichi for a record of 4 consecutive times until last season. It was on the cards, that the most iconic footballer in modern times would be making history once again in the recently concluded La Liga season if he could win another Pichichi. You might have guessed it by now who we are talking about. Barcelona’s very own talisman, Lionel Messi nicknamed as “La Pulga” by Spanish media claimed his fourth consecutive Pichichi this year and with that became the leader for winning this trophy for a record 7 times. A feat no other player in Spain has been able to achieve till date.
A player who was groomed in La Masia, catching the eye of scouts and coaches in his youth years with the level of footballing brilliance has made it to the highest levels in the game and he humbly owes it to Football Club Barcelona. With a meteoric rise in his footballing carrier, Lionel Messi has records all over the place. The most famous of them would be the Ballon d’Or which he won for a record sixth time last year in the 2018-19 season. But even the Pichichi trophy, is worth having a look at. It has been a decade since Lionel Messi won his first Pichichi, so let’s look back at his record-breaking decade, one Pichichi at a time.
1. 2009-10 Season – Pichichi trophy 1
Lionel Messi made his debut for the Barcelona senior team in 2004-05 season, but it took him 5 seasons to win his first Pichichi in 2009-10. A team managed by Pep Guardiola could notably go down as one of the best teams in history with its varied style of Tiki-Taka football and European dominance. Under Pep, Messi flourished with the style of game-play and his attacking returns paid of when he finishes the season with 34 goals from 35 La Liga games. This goal-scoring feat was previously achieved in 37 games by the Brazilian Ronaldo in the 1996-97 season who then was a Barcelona striker.
2. 2011-12 Season – Pichichi trophy 2
Starting the year as champions of Europe and Spain from the 2010-11 season, Lionel Messi continued his fine form in this season. The Argentinian also won his third successive Ballon d’Or, joining a circle of legends that had achieved this feat earlier who were Marco Van Basten, Michel Platini and Johan Cryuff. Lionel Messi finished the La Liga season scoring a record of 50 goals, yes 50 goals in 1 season. Unbelievable!
3. 2012-13 Season – Pichichi trophy 3
Will this be another year that Messi would break his own record of last season? Consistency at the highest level, that was Lionel Messi. However, he did not achieve his 50-goal scoring mark but came close to it and finished the season with 46 goals which was enough for him to win another Pichichi. While Lionel Messi and Barcelona ended their European campaign of a low note having been beaten by Bayern Munich in the semi-finals of the Champions League, Messi ended the season winning the La Liga.
4. 2016-17 Season – Pichichi trophy 4
Fellow teammate, Luis Suarez and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo had been sharing the spoils in the last 3 seasons for the Pichichi trophy. This season marks the beginning of La Pulga’s history breaking campaign of the Pichichi. Messi finishes the season with 37 goals in 34 games with an average of 1.08 goals per game which handed him the golden shoe for the fourth time in his career.
5. 2017-18 Season – Pichichi trophy 5
With club legend Andres Iniesta playing his last season for Barcelona, Lionel Messi prepares to take over the captaincy and lead the Catalans ahead in their conquest for glory. A fine goodbye for Iniesta as Barcelona regains its La Liga title, but who would have thought that the kid from Rosario, Argentina would continue making history with the changes going around in the club. Added responsibility only strengthened Messi, as he finishes the La Liga season with 34 goals which helped him win his fifth Pichichi.
6. 2018-19 Season – Pichichi trophy 6
Great players have one thing in common, consistency. Lionel Messi has always had this ability and that is what makes opponents fear the very presence of him being on the football pitch. Goal scoring and Lionel Messi go hand in hand, and he proves once again at the age of 31 that he is still at his very best form. Messi ends up scoring 36 goals in 34 games, doing better than his previous season. He wins a record sixth Ballon d’Or and also gets his name inked in history with 6 Pichichi’s trophies, a feat he now shares with Athletic Bilbao player Telmo Zarra.
7. 2019-20 Season – Pichichi trophy 7
19 July, Sunday 2020, Barcelona ends its 2019-20 season on a high note with an impressive 5-0 win over Deportivo Alaves having lost out on the La Liga title to rivals Real Madrid a few days earlier. Messi finishes the game scoring a brace which gets his goal scoring tally to 25, which is his lowest total in a La Liga season. Real Madrid forward, Benzema had to score 5 goals against Leganes to beat the Argentine for the golden shoe trophy. The French forward failed and Messi consoles himself with his record seventh Pichichi trophy.
The Argentine now has his own record to break as long as he continues to play in La Liga, and he can very well claim the Pichichi trophy as his very own.
We can all continue to be mesmerized by his brilliance on the pitch day in and day out, his effortless feints, sublime dodges, cheeky nutmegs, top bin freekicks, panenka penalties and breath-taking runs with the ball. Football will have many champions along the way, but football will never have another Lionel Messi. Lionel Messi, a legend, an icon, the greatest of all time.