AS Roma striker Francesco Totti hailed his own remarkable comeback from injury after winning the Golden Boot award for finishing the season as Europe's top striker.
|AS Rome's Francesco Totti holds the Italian Cup at the end of his second leg final against Inter Milan|
The 30-year-old scored 26 goals in Serie A this season despite playing the whole of this season with a metal pin in his ankle - the result of an injury that threatened to keep him out of Italy's FIFA World Cup-winning campaign in Germany last year.
He took the Golden Boot after the only player capable of beating him, Real Madrid's Ruud van Nistelrooy, limped off with a hamstring injury without scoring during his team's 3-1 win over Real Mallorca on Sunday.
"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, top goalscorer and I have won the Coppa Italia and the Golden Boot," Totti was quoted as saying on the UEFA website (www.uefa.com) on Monday.
"What's more, I've won the Golden Boot on 17 June, exactly six years after winning the scudetto (Serie A title) with Roma. It was meant to be."
The 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 the Italian top flight gave him 52 points, two points ahead of Van Nistelrooy, who scored 25 times for Real. Brazilian striker Afonso Alves was third after scoring 34 goals for Dutch club Heerenveen.
"I feel sorry for Van Nistelrooy. 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," added Totti, who became the second Italian to win the award in successive seasons after Fiorentina striker Luca Toni last year.