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Pelé's all-time Brazil record that Neymar could break against Croatia

I write this on the morning of the first pair of 2022 World Cup quarter-final games in Qatar. By the time I close my eyes this evening, a famous goal scoring record that has stood for decades may have been broken. It is one that belongs to a true legend of the Beautiful Game, someone who has been in hospital over the past week as he continues his battle against a long-term illness.

Pelé: a Brazilian goalscorer like no other

Edson Arantes do Nascimento, more commonly known as Pelé, is obviously the legendary figure that I refer to, and his 77 goals for Brazil have been unmatched since he hung up his boots for his national team after his final game on 18 July 1971.

The samba-loving country has produced several elite-level players that have entertained us over the years but even the likes of Zico, Romario and Ronaldo have not been able to reach that goal-scoring tally. We are, however, during this controversial winter World Cup likely to see the feat achieved, by a current hero of the nation, Neymar.

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Brazil goals: top 5AS English

Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior turns 31 in February and is now just one goal away from equalling that record of 77. His debut came in 2010, where he scored in the 2-0 win against the USA and he has since represented the Selecao 123 times.

In today’s quarter final against Croatia he may just do that (with potentially two further games to come), and then the question will be can he surpass it. Of course, given the player’s age, even if he is unable to make history at this tournament, few would bet on him doing so in the coming months, with most predicting that he will add several more over the years.

Brazil goals: Neymar

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Brazil goals: NeymarAS English

Pelé vs Neymar: Brazilian legends then and now

One aspect of the record that some point to is the number of games that it took Pelé to achieve his 77 compared to that of the current forward. With that tally in 92 games, the now 82-year-old has a ratio of 0.84. Neymar’s 76 in 123 gives him a goals-to-games ratio of 0.62. That’s quite a difference.

That said, there are a number of other factors that come into play, including how football demands on players have changed in that time and also the level of competition that the Brazil of old versus the more recent one has faced.

Brazil goals: Pelé vs Neymar

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Brazil goals: Pelé vs NeymarAS English

Two legends of the Brazilian national team, no doubt. And from what he’s said, Pelé will be cheering on Neymar and co. as he recovers in hospital or at home all the way to lifting the trophy.

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