After scoring against Peru at the Copa America on Thursday, the PSG forward is now only nine goals behind Brazil's all-time leading scorer.
Legendary footballer Pele has stated that he is rooting for Neymar to break his all-time Brazilian goal record of 77, which the Paris Saint-Germain forward is closing in on by scoring against Peru. Neymar was in tears after scoring for the Selecao in a 4-0 win over Peru in the Copa America, taking his tally to 68 goals for his country. He is now nine behind the record set by the former iconic Brazilian footballer. Pele, widely considered one of the greatest players ever, commented on this development and only good words to say about the former Barcelona forward.
Pele was all praise for the Brazilian forward and said that it was “impossible not to smile back” whenever he sees him. “Every time I see this boy, he is smiling. It’s impossible not to smile back. It is contagious,” wrote Pele. “I, like all Brazilians, am always happy when I see him playing. Today, he took another step towards my goalscoring record for the Selecao. And I’m rooting for him to get there, with the same joy I’ve had since I saw him play for the first time.”
After the match, an emotional Neymar has opened up about getting closer to Pele’s record. “It’s moving for me [to get closer to Pele’s record], I’ve been through a lot these last two years,” he said. “These [goal] numbers are nothing more than my joy of playing for Brazil, representing my country, my family. We’re all going through a very atypical moment, a very hard moment in Brazil and elsewhere.
“To be a role model for someone, to make people happy, it gives me joy. I love the story that I’m writing here, I want my family and friends to be proud. I hope everyone who loves this game are proud of me, because these numbers don’t really mean anything, only the pride of representing Brazil.”
Neymar is only 29 and needs just ten more to leapfrog the record set by the legendary former striker. Having scored 68 goals in 107 caps, age is on the side of the PSG forward to break Pele’s record tally.
PSG striker Neymar will not represent Brazil in the Tokyo Olympics, but Daniel Alves, his former club teammate, was named in the squad on Thursday. Besides, Neymar’s current PSG teammate, Marquinhos, who won a gold medal in Rio five years ago, is another name missing from coach Andre Jardine’s list.
Alves, who is now with Sao Paulo after playing for the likes of Barcelona and PSG, is not part of the Copa America due to a knee injury. Lyon’s Bruno Guimaraes and Marseille’s new recruit Gerson will also participate in Japan.