at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Barcelona - Lionel Messi has played down the importance of individual achievements and said the key thing is for Barcelona to continue making history as a team after he became the La Liga club's record scorer on Sunday.
A product of Barca's academy and still only 26, Messi netted a hat-trick in their 7-0 drubbing of Osasuna at the Nou Camp, taking the Argentina forward's tally to 371 goals and surpassing Paulino Alcantara's mark of 369 set between 1912 and 1927.
Messi's latest treble means he is only one goal short of equalling Hugo Sanchez's La Liga goals total of 234 to join the former Mexico striker in second on the all-time list and is closing in on record marksman Telmo Zarra, who scored 251.
The four-times World Player of the Year's next chance to add to his haul is in Sunday's La Liga “Clasico” at leaders Real Madrid, when a win would put Barca within a point of their arch rivals and defeat would deal a severe blow to their chances of a fifth domestic league title in six years.
“The important thing is that the team continues to make history,” Messi said in an interview on Barca's TV channel on Monday.
“This group of players has won everything and deserves to continue achieving important things,” he added.
“It's an honour to be able to be part of the history of such a great club.”
Messi appears to be hitting top form at just the right time with Barca through to the last eight of the Champions League and next month's King's Cup final, when they will play Real in a repeat of the 2011 showpiece.
Coach Gerardo Martino needs his Argentina compatriot to be on song to help revitalise their La Liga campaign and put recent poor performances, including defeats at Real Valladolid and Real Sociedad, behind them.
“After Valladolid we were on the receiving end of some tough criticism,” Messi said.
“We were the first to know that we hadn't done things well and that we have to win everything if we want the league and everything else we are playing for.
“We hope to see a good version (of Barca at the Bernabeu) and to get a good result to maintain our title challenge.
“It's a unique chance to close the gap to Madrid. It's very difficult because we are the away team and playing a great side but we will try.”