Roma captain Francesco Totti has won the European Golden Boot award. The 30-year-old scored 26 times for his club to finish one goal ahead of Real Madrid's Ruud van Nistelrooy.
Totti's achievement is an impressive return for a player who broke his ankle last year, recovered in time to help Italy win the World Cup last summer and in the subsequent campaign helped guide his club to Coppa Italia success, a Serie A runners-up finish and the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League.
Totti said: "A year ago everyone was writing me off, saying that I was finished and only in the national team on reputation, but the criticism brought me luck because now I am a World Cup winner, Serie A capocannoniere and I have won the Coppa Italia and the Golden Boot.
"What's more, I've won the Golden Boot on 17 June - exactly six years after winning the Scudetto with Roma. It was meant to be," he added.
The ESM Golden Boot is decided on a points system, which is weighted according to the relative strength of each of Europe's leagues. Totti's 26 goals in Serie A gave him 52 points, two points ahead of Van Nistelrooy, who scored 25 times for Real in Spain's top flight.
Despite Afonso Alves' 34 goals for Heerenveen, the Brazilian finished in second place on 51 points in the rankings. Goals scored in the Dutch EreDivisie are worth 1.5 points compared to a goal scored in one of Europe's major leagues, which are worth 2 points.
Van Nistelrooy could have got level with Totti in Real's last game of the season against Real Mallorca tonight, however, a hamstring injury saw him limp off in the early stages of the 3-1 win against Real Mallorca that handed Madrid the title leaving Totti to take the crown.
"I feel sorry for Van Nistelrooy," added Totti. "I can imagine how bitter he must have felt, but he is still a great player and deserves full respect for fighting until the end."
Totti became the second successive Italian to win the award after Luca Toni scored 31 goals for Fiorentina last year. He will be presented with his award at the start of next season.
Totti has not played for the Italian national side since the World Cup Final to take a break from international football. But he has hinted he might be willing to return to play for coach Roberto Donadoni as they seek to qualify for Euro 2008.
"In July, I will telephone team manager Gigi Riva and I will tell him how I am and what I am thinking of doing. Then we will see," said Totti earlier this month.
Source: C4 Football Italia, UEFA & BBC