The record is finally down! Almost nine months after equaling him in Qatar, Neymar supplanted the legendary Pelé as top scorer for the Brazilian selection, thanks to two goals against Bolivia (5-1), Friday in Belem in qualifying for the 2026 World Cup.
First a missed penalty (17th), then the feat. In the 61st, the 31-year-old overtook "The King" by signing his 78th goal in 125 appearances for Brazil. However, it didn't just improve the performance of its illustrious predecessor! Because in stoppage time, around thirty minutes later, Neymar added a 79th stone to his building, already increasing the record which is now his.
“I am very happy, I have no words. I never imagined reaching this record. From that moment, I want to say that having done it does not mean that I am better than (Pelé) or any other player in the selection, "said the Brazilian to the press after the meeting.
“I always want (...) to write my name in the history of Brazilian football and the Brazilian selection, today that’s what I did.”
Striker Marta, however, retains the record for both selections combined, with her 122 goals in 189 caps. Pelé, who died on December 29, 2022 at the age of 82, claimed 95 goals in 113 national team matches. But this figure, which includes his goals during friendlies between the Seleçao and clubs or official teams from Brazilian states - which the Brazilian Federation (CBF) accepts - is not recognized by FIFA.
The average of Edson Arantes do Nascimento, alias Pelé, the only footballer to have won three World Cups (1958, 1962, 1970), nevertheless remains higher than that of his successor, with 0.84 goals per match (77 in 92 caps). ), compared to 0.63 for the new player from Al-Hilal, in the Saudi league.
Neymar wrote history on the hour mark, from the right, wrong-footing Guillermo Viscarra, who had saved his penalty and the deadline at the start of the match. “Pelé is unanimously the king of football. Imagine beating someone like him …”, said number 10 at a press conference on Thursday. “It will be a unique brand and this goal will be dedicated to all those who have helped me,” he announced.
Moreover, Brazil delivered a successful performance for its entry into the qualifiers for the South America region for the 2026 World Cup. This is a first success for Fernando Diniz, who replaced Tite at the head of the Seleçao while awaiting the arrival of Carlo Ancelotti for the 2024 Copa America.
In Belem, it was Real striker Rodrygo who started the party (24th), then signing a double in the second period (53rd) for the 3-0. Previously, after returning from the locker room, Barça winger Raphinha had doubled the lead (47th).
After the record goal of Neymar, who left Paris Saint-Germain for Saudi Arabia in August, the incoming Victor Abrego reduced the gap on the Bolivian side (78th), a quarter of an hour before Neymar returned from there, well served by Raphinha (90th 3). The striker had missed three friendlies before the game against Bolivia due to injury.
Also on Friday, Uruguay and their new coach Marcelo Bielsa made their debut against Chile, 3-1. In Montevideo, under the leadership of the volcanic Argentine and without Cavani or Suarez, the Celeste, much rejuvenated, won thanks to a double from de la Cruz (38th, 71st) and a goal from Madrid's Federico Valverde (45th 2).