Lionel Messi became the all time leading goal scorer in the La Liga following his hat-trick in Barcelona’s 5-1 thrashing of Sevilla on Saturday.
The Argentine’s first effort of the day brought him to the same mark as the previous record by Telmo Zarra on 251 goals in his 289th appearance in the Spanish top flight. He then slid to convert Neymar’s pass and add Barca’s fourth of the night to set the new benchmark in the Primera Division. The 27-year-old completed his 27th Barcelona hat-trick with a low-footed effort.
“When I scored this goal, I couldn’t imagine I could break any record, let alone this one previously held by the great Telmo Zarra,” he wrote on his official Facebook page with the picture of his first Barça’ goal against Albacete in May, 2005 in display.
Lionel Messi is Been Thrown Into the Air By His Team-Mates in Front of Over 78,500 Camp Nou Fans After Breaking the La Liga Goal Record. Image: Getty.
“I was only able to achieve this because of the support I have had from so many people during my time here and I would like to dedicate this achievement to you all.”
Zarra scored his 251 goals for Athletic Bilbao during a 15-year career, spanning 277 appearances for the Basque club between 1940 to 1955.
Messi’s strike ended a three-game goal drought in the league, during which Barca had lost to Real Madrid and Celta Vigo and came from behind to beat Almeria 2-1 before the recent international break.
“Thanks for always being with me. I would also like to dedicate this to the people who are no longer with us anymore,” said Messi. “I will never forget you. Thank you everyone for standing with me.”
Messi is also a strike shy of the all-time record mark in the Uefa Champions League, after tying former Real striker Raul on 71 with a brace against Ajax earlier this month.
Current Catalans coach Luis Enrique said: “He is a unique and unrepeatable player. I can’t compare him to any other player I have seen before and I have seen plenty. I have known for a long time that I haven’t seen a player like hm and now I have the pleasure to see him train everyday.”