As of Friday, Neymar has scored more goals for the Brazilian national team than the three-time World Cup champion Pele.

Prior to Brazil’s win over Bolivia, Neymar‘s previous international encounter was the quarterfinal defeat to Croatia at last year’s World Cup. When he left Qatar, he wasn’t sure whether he’d be a part of the Selecao for the rest of the year.

But now, he’s about to go down in the record books. The 61st-minute goal against Bolivia in the World Cup Qualifiers placed the veteran forward at the top of Brazil’s scoring record with 78.

What did Neymar say about surpassing Pele?

The tally was Brazil’s fourth in a 5-1 victory, and Neymar’s 79th of the match, which came in stoppage time. Goalkeeper Billy Viscarra denied the Al-Hilal attacker a penalty in the 17th minute.

However, the second goal scored by Neymar followed a low pass into the penalty area, which the striker completed with precision. Like Pele would, he pumped his fists in the air in triumph.

“I am very happy, no words for this. I never thought I would reach this record”, he remarked in short remarks to the media after receiving a plaque from Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) head Ednaldo Rodrigues, via BBC.

FIFA and CBF’s numbers differ

The two-goal performance moved him beyond Pele, the three-time World Cup champion, who scored 77 goals for the Selecao. While FIFA claims this, there are others who question their methodology.

In contrast to the International Federation of Association Football, the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) thinks Neymar still has a long way to go before he can equal Ronaldo’s record. Pele scored 95 goals for Brazil in 113 international matches, as reported by the CBF and Pele himself.

There is a substantial discrepancy between the two organizations’ definitions of what an ‘international match’ entails. Matches involving two different countries are counted in FIFA’s stats (for both caps and goals).

But the disparity arises from international teams’ matches versus club sides throughout the 20th century. This heightened appearance count and goal tally may be traced back to the 1960s and 1970s. In this era, Brazil faced teams like Inter and Atletico Madrid.

Photo credit: IMAGO / Xinhua