Barcelona football star Lionel Messi last night wrote his way into the history books after notching up the Guinness World Records title for the most goals in a calendar year by netting his 86th goal of 2012.
The 25-year-old Argentine edged past Gerd Mueller's long-standing record of 85 - set in 1972 - to set a new benchmark, which includes goals for club and country.
Messi clinched the record after hitting the target twice in Barca's 2-1 win over Real Betis on Sunday.
The Three-time World Player of the Year drilled in an angled shot after 16 minutes to equal the German's record before adding a second with a shot driven low in the 25th minute to set the new mark.
Speaking after the match, Messi told Spanish TV station Canal Plus: "I always say the same, it's nice for what it means but the victory is more important as it maintains our lead over the other teams".
Mueller, who netted 72 for Bayern Munich and 13 for West Germany when he set the previous benchmark in 1972 and was 27 at the time, was among the first to congratulate Messi, telling Sport1.de: "My record stood for 40 years - 85 goals in 60 games - and now the best player in the world has broken it, and I'm delighted for him.
"He is an incredible player, gigantic."
Messi's attempt to break the record looked uncertain after he was stretchered off during Barcelona's Champions League draw with Benfica on Wednesday with a knee injury.
However, despite admitting he thought he had kicked his last ball "for a long time because of the pain", the injury to his left knee was eventually found not to be as bad as initially feared, allowing him to start against Betis.
Messi's path to the record has included 74 goals for Barcelona and 12 for Argentina in 66 games.
He could still add to his final tally, with the striker set to feature in two league matches and one King's Cup tie before the end of the year.
Nicknamed "The Flea" for his small frame, Messi passed Cesar Rodriguez's 57-year-old milestone of 232 goals to become Barcelona all-time leading scorer.
Messi's month-by-month goal tally
- January 7
- February 10
- March 13
- April 9
- May 8
- June 4
- July 0
- August 7
- September 5
- October 10
- November 9
- December 4
Messi's goal breakdown
Copa del Rey: 3
Primera Division: 56
Champions League: 13
Spanish Super Cup: 2
Club total: 74
World Cup qualifiers: 5
Country total: 12
Overall total: 86