Neymar has overtaken a legendary compatriot…
The 31-year-old Brazilian soccer star netted twice in national team’s 5-1 win in their World Cup qualifying match against Bolivia to overtake Pele as Brazil’s all-time men’s top scorer.
“I never imagined reaching this record. I want to say that I am not better player than Pele,” said Neymar after the game. “I always wanted to make my own story, write my name in the history of Brazilian football and the national team. And today I did that.”
Brazil women’s forward Marta holds the country’s all-time record with 115 goals in 171 games.
Neymar’s record-breaking goal came after a low cross into the penalty box, which the striker finished with accuracy from close range. He celebrated with a punch in the air, as Pele usually did.
Earlier in the match, Neymar missed a penalty in the 17th minute, which goalkeeper Guillermo Viscarra saved.
Pelé’s Foundation acknowledged Neymar’s achievement.
“Congratulations, Neymar Jr, for surpassing the King in goals for the Brazilian National Team in official FIFA matches,” it said on social media. “Surely Pelé is applauding you today!”
Pelé died from cancer Dec. 29 in Sao Paulo at the age of 82.
Striker Rodrygo, who also scored two goals against Bolivia, said he’s still very much a Neymar fan.
“Neymar is very much a hero of mine,” Rodrygo said. “This will be in my memory, this was a very special day.”
New Brazil coach Fernando Diniz said Neymar came to play for Brazil “to score goals, break records, show that he is very much willing to live this [with the national team.]”
“He is a great hero,” Diniz said. “People have to recognize it and accept it. He doesn’t do anything to get this adoration he gets from the crowd, it is because of the natural talent he has.”
Neymar’s most recent match for Brazil before the victory over Bolivia was the World Cup quarterfinal loss to Croatia. He left Qatar with doubts about his future in the national team and did not play the Selecao‘s first three games this year.
The former Santos, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain star scored in his Brazil debut in a 2010 friendly against the United States.
Neymar guided Brazil to the Confederations Cup title in 2013 but has yet to lead them to a World Cup final, reaching quarterfinals twice — 2018 and 2022 — and the semifinal in 2014, when they suffered a humiliating 7-1 defeat to Germany on home soil.
He missed out on Brazil’s 2019 Copa America triumph through injury and was on the losing side in 2021’s final against Argentina.
Neymar has enjoyed a glittering club career with honors, including two LaLiga titles, a Champions League trophy, five Ligue 1 titles and a Copa Libertadores.