I was out every night in Madrid but I was still top scorer – Vieri

The ex-Juventus, Inter and Lazio hero proved a success at Atletico, even though he was enjoying the nightlife in the Spanish capital

Former striker Christian Vieri says he was out drinking every night in Madrid throughout the season he finished top scorer in La Liga.

Vieri spent one season in the Spanish top-flight, having joined Atletico Madrid from Juventus in 1997.

The Italy legend netted 24 times in as many appearances in the league – 29 in 31 games in all competitions – as the capital club finished in seventh place and reached the UEFA Cup semi-finals.  

That tally saw him beat Barcelona heroes Rivaldo and Luis Enrique – who scored 19 and 18 goals respectively for the champions – to the Pichichi Trophy.

The former Lazio and Inter star has admitted, however, that he was having a party off the field as well as on it.

“At Juve I was a great professional, in Madrid we went out every night,” Vieri, who left the following summer to join Lazio, said in an interview with TyC Sports.

“Everyone went out, not that I could stay alone at home. But I have always I’ve been a professional, only maybe I went out a bit more. 

“In any case, I was the top scorer, but maybe at night we went to dinner a little late and then for a drink and a walk.”

Vieri is regarded as one of Italy’s best ever strikers, having scored 23 times in 49 games for the Azzurri and featured in two World Cups, though they did not make it past the quarter-finals.

And he sympathises with Argentina stars Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Higuain, who are often criticised for their failure to guide the Albiceleste to global success despite illustrious careers at club level.

“Messi lost five tournament finals with Argentina, and are they going to say that it is not good? You always need luck in the national team,” he said.

“Higuain is a champion. If you score goals in Italy you can score goals all over the world, no problem.

“He has scored goals in Europe for more than 10 years. When you don’t win something with the national team, it’s normal to face criticism, but Higuaín is a very complete attacker.”