▶ A tribute to record-breaking Neymar
| They said Careca would do it. Then Romario. It was a formality that Ronaldo would. Yet as supernatural as those strikers were for Brazil, they didn’t manage to catch Pele’s haul of 77 goals.|
Last night in Belem, it was finally broken – and by someone they said was more a maker than taker of chances, too fragile for the rough-and-tumble jungle that is international football. Parabéns, Neymar.
The 31-year-old, who had equalled Pele's mark in Brazil's ill-fated Qatar 2022 quarter-final against Croatia, surpassed it by striking twice as the Seleção made an impressive start to FIFA World Cup 26™ against Bolivia.
Brazil’s record scorers
Neymar (79 goals)
A 61-year record
Pele had reigned as Brazil’s leading international marksman for 61 years. He outranked Ademir de Menezes, who hit 32 goals for Brazil, in 1962.
Whispers of Neymar’s phenomenal talent began spreading when he was 10. Zito, the two-time World Cup winner, was swiftly persuaded to watch him play futsal. “I was blown away,” recalled the former midfielder. “I went to see the [Santos] president right away and told him he had to sign Neymar immediately.”
That president, however, informed Zito that Santos didn’t have an age group for Neymar. “So create one!” Zito urged Marcelo Teixeira. The latter duly did.
At 13 he spent 20 days on trial at Real Madrid, who boasted David Beckham, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane at the time. The Spanish superpower pulled out all the stops to sign him, and almost succeeded, but Neymar elected to remain at Santos. He made his club debut as a 17-year-old in 2009 and instantly began thrilling.
The call that didn’t come
There was a clamour for Dunga to take Neymar to South Africa 2010. It heightened when Pele urged the coach to pick the 18-year-old. The bullheaded coach nevertheless refused to relent and, lacking creativity, Brazil lost 2-1 to the Netherlands in the quarter-finals.
First game, first goal
Neymar made his Brazil debut in their first outing after South Africa 2010, lining up alongside current team-mates Thiago Silva and Dani Alves in a friendly against USA in East Rutherford. He took just 28 minutes to open his account – uncharacteristically with a forcible header – in a 2-0 win.
When Neymar first scored for Brazil
Instagram didn’t exist. Neymar now has 183 million followers on the social networking platform – more than Katy Perry, Rihanna, Lebron James and NASA.
Avatar had recently become the highest-grossing film of all time.
Love The Way You Lie by Eminem featuring Rihanna, Billionaire by Travie Mccoy featuring Bruno Mars, and Club Can't Handle Me by Flo Rida featuring David Guetta were flying high on singles’ charts across the planet.
Airfryers, Amazon Alexa and Netflix Originals didn’t exist. The first Apple iPad had just been released, while Uber had just hired its first employee.
Neymar has scored nine goals in only five games against Japan. His next-favourite victims are Peru (6 goals), USA (5) and Ecuador (4).
Did you know?
Neymar is the youngest player to score more than three goals in a game for Brazil. As a 22-year-old, he was on target four times against Japan.
Neymar was one the only footballer – and one of just five sportspeople – on TIME’s list of The 100 Most Influential People in the World for 2017. The others were Simone Biles, Tom Brady, Lebron James and Conor McGregor. Neymar’s profile – each inductee’s was written by another personality – was done by David Beckham.
Neymar is one of only three players to register 100 goals for three top-division clubs. He did it for Santos, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain. Romario and Ronaldo are the others.
Neymar came fourth on Forbes’ list of the world’s highest-paid athletes behind Cristiano Ronaldo (3rd), Lebron James (2nd) and Lionel Messi (1st).
Brazil’s record World Cup marksmen
Ronaldo (15 goals in 19 games)
Pele (12 in 14)
Ademir de Menezes (9 in 6)
Jairzinho (9 in 16)
Vava (9 in 10)
Leonidas da Silva (8 in 4)
Neymar (8 in 13)
Rivaldo (8 in 14)
Careca (7 in 9)
International football’s record marksmen
Cristiano Ronaldo (123 in 201)
Ali Daei (109 in 148)
Lionel Messi (104 in 176)
Mokhtar Dahari (89)
Ferenc Puskas (84 in 89)
Sunil Chhetri (84 in 131)
Ali Mabkhout (80 in 109)
Godfrey Chitalu (79 in 111)
Neymar (79 in 125)
Hussein Saeed (78 in 137)
Pele (77 in 91)
Major titles with Brazil
FIFA Confederations Cup, 2013
Neymar scored four goals in five games, including a gem in a 3-0 win over Spain in the final, and seized the adidas Golden Ball.
Men’s Olympic Football Tournament Rio 2016
It was the only crown Brazil didn’t have in their sacred collection – despite trying badly to claim it. On home soil Neymar made sure they did, scoring and assisting goals and tucking away the winning penalty in the gold medal shootout against Germany.
- The origianl text resource is from FIFA Official Website