As Neymar is narrowing the gap with Pele, the all-time top scorer of Team Brazil, Pele hailed on social media for Neymar’s extraordinary performance in Copa America.
Based on FIFA records, Pele sits first for Team Brazil with 77 goals. Neymar cut the gap to nine after helping Brazil beat Peru 4-0 on Thursday.
“Every time I see this boy, he is smiling. It is impossible not to smile back. It is contagious. I, like many Brazilians, am always happy when I see him playing socce,” wrote Pele on social media with a picture of him and Neymar together taken in the Santos Football Club.
Pele further expressed his joy of seeing the 29-year-old approach his record for Brazil. “Today, he took another step towards my goalscoring record for the Selecao. And I am rooting for him to get there, with the same joy I’ve had since I saw him play for the first time.”
Neymar was named man of the match following Brazil’s victory and was quite emotional in the post-match interview.
“It is very emotional to me because I went through a lot in the last two years. Difficult and complicated. These numbers are nothing compared to the happiness I have playing for Brazil,” said Neymar.
Neymar’s path towards this record was by no means easy. He missed the 2019 Copa America due to injuries and recently lost sponsors because he was dealing with a sexual assault allegation.
“It’s an honor to be part of Brazil’s history. To be honest, my dream was to play for Brazil in this shirt. I never would imagine that I could achieve those numbers,” said Neymar in tears.
Neymar scored for Brazil in both matches against Venezuela and Peru. The victories sent Brazil to the top of Group A with six points.
XINHUA | RIO DE JANEIRO