A growing debate is sweeping the football universe ever since Cristiano Ronaldo broke Brazil legend Pele’s goal scoring record. Ronaldo scored his 757th and 758th career goals against Udinese in Serie A on Sunday, thus pipping Pele’s record of 757 career goals for club and country. However, the Brazilian updated his Instagram and Twitter bio as ‘Leading Goal Scorer of All Time (1,283).’ But why?
There seems to be confusion when it comes to Pele’s official goal scoring tally, not only because he used to play over 50 years ago, but there is particular uncertainty about his stats in South America. His verified goals, that is those he scored for Santos, New York Cosmos, and the Brazilian national team states he has scored 757 goals.
Earlier, when Barcelona great Lionel Messi surpassed Pele’s record of scoring for a single club, 644 goals, there was an official statement from Santos FC, stating that the stats were incorrect.
The statement read, “In the expert press accounts, O Rei scored 643 in competitive matches and the 448 goals scored in friendly matches and tournaments were ostracised as if they hold less value. The 448 goals which today they try to disqualify, were scored against the best teams of the time. Club America (Mexico) and Colo Colo (Chile) each conceded nine goals against Pele.”
“Inter Milan, one of the great European sides in the 1960s, conceded eight from O Rei. The list is immense and includes huge names: River Plate, Boca Juniors, Racing, Universidad de Chile, Real Madrid, Juventus, Lazio, Napoli, Benfica, and Anderlecht. Even Barcelona, where Messi plays, was one of Pele’s victims. He scored four goals in four games [against them]”
“Another point that must be considered and contextualized, is the structure of the games that today are called official. The first national club tournament, the Brazil Cup, starts to be played in 1959. The main championship, Paulista, was played between the months of July and December, with the extinct Rio-São Paulo Tournament occupying a small part of the first semester. – about two months. Thus, the clubs took advantage of the long period without competitions, for friendly disputes and excursions.”