Lazio forward Ciro Immobile scored his 36th goal of the season on Saturday in a 3-1 defeat against Napoli to equal the record for the most goals in a Serie A campaign.
The 30-year-old Italy international tapped in after 22 minutes to match Argentina forward Gonzalo Higuain’s record of 36 goals, set while playing for Napoli in the 2015-16 season.
Immobile also wins the European Golden Shoe for the continent’s top scorer this term, having overtaken Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski’s tally of 34 in midweek.
Fourteen of his goals were from the penalty spot, as Lazio finished the season in fourth place, earning a return to the Champions League.
It is the third time Immobile has won the title of best scorer in Italy after 2013-2014, when he scored 22 goals with Torino, and in 2017-2018 when his 29 goals for Lazio saw him share the honour with Inter Milan’s Mauro Icardi.
Cristiano Ronaldo missd out on winning a first ‘Capocannoniere’ award for top scorer in the Italian top flight, as he was rested for Juventus’s final game, a 3-1 defeat to Roma.
The 35-year-old five-time Ballon d’Or winner finished second best with 31 goals.
European football's top five scorers
|Robert Lewandowski||Bayern Munich||34|
|Timo Werner||RB Leipzig||28|
He has become just the third Italian winner of the European Golden Shoe after Roma’s Francesco Totti (26) in 2007 and Luca Toni for Fiorentina in 2006 (31).
“I am only sorry that I cannot celebrate these numbers with the fans,” said Immobile, nicknamed ‘King Ciro’ in the capital, but whose career before arriving in Rome had been erratic.
Success has not followed onto the national team, where he has scored ten goals in 39 games, taking the brunt of criticism after Italy failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
Immobile started his career at Juventus, where he made just three appearances before a breakthrough loan season in 2011-2012 at Pescara where his 28 goals lifted the Serie B side into the top flight.
He couldn’t follow up his form the following season with Genoa, but had more success with Torino where he scored 22 goals in 33 appearances to win his first Serie A top scorer award.
An 18 million euros ($22 million) move to the Bundesliga followed, but he scored just three times in 24 appearances for Borussia Dortmund, followed by an unsuccessful six-month spell at Sevilla.
But scoring is something he has done with stunning regularity since joining Lazio in the summer of 2016, at the same time as coach Simone Inzaghi.
He has has flourished in the Inzaghi system playing alongside Luis Alberto and Joaquin Correa, and midfielders Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Marco Parolo, scoring 102 times in 141 Serie A appearances.
Lazio can thank Immobile for nearly half of their 78 league goals, as he slotted in 14 from the penalty spot.
The title challenge fell off after the lockdown with four defeats in their first five July games as Immobile conceded: “I have not been myself, I need to get back to being calm.”
He has scored seven goals in his last five games as Lazio and assured the club of a return to the Champions League after 13 seasons.
“It is a great achievement for him, but also for the whole team,” said Inzaghi.
“Ciro’s records would be a nice prize for everyone. He leapt over Lewandowski, he broke every record,” he added.
(With inputs from AFP)