Brazil’s star forward, Neymar, etched his name into the annals of football history by overtaking Pele as Brazil’s all-time leading male goal scorer during a commanding 5-1 victory against Bolivia.
The 31-year-old forward, who entered the World Cup qualification match level with the legendary Pele at 77 international goals, endured a penalty miss before netting twice in the second half, all in his 125th appearance for the national team.
“I never could have imagined reaching this milestone. I don’t consider myself better than Pele or any other player who has represented our national team,” Neymar humbly remarked.
On the women’s side of Brazilian football, Marta has accumulated an astounding 122 goals in 189 matches, further solidifying her status as a legend of the sport.
Pele, who passed away in December at the age of 82, scored 77 goals in 92 appearances for Brazil between 1957 and 1971, universally regarded as one of the greatest footballers ever to grace the pitch.
The official social media account of Pele paid tribute to Neymar’s remarkable feat, posting, “Congratulations Neymar for surpassing the King in goals for Brazil. Surely, Pele is applauding you today!”
Brazil’s head coach, Fernando Diniz, praised Neymar’s performance, stating, “He came here to do exactly what he did: have fun, score two goals, and break the record.”
Neymar made headlines worldwide when he became the most expensive footballer globally, securing a £200 million transfer from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017. In the summer, he made another significant move, this time to join Saudi Pro League team Al-Hilal.
“Diniz added, “He is an enormous idol, and people must recognize and embrace him.”
Elsewhere in South American World Cup qualifying, Uruguay commenced their campaign with a 3-1 victory over Chile, led by their new coach, former Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa.