‘Congratulations on your historic record, Lionel’: Pele praises Messi for tying his all-time single club goalscoring tally
Football icon Pele has paid tribute to Lionel Messi after the Argentine ace drew level with the Brazilian’s all-time record of 643 goals for a single club with a strike during Barcelona’s 2-2 draw with Valencia.
Messi stooped to head a first-half injury time goal from a rebound after he saw his spot kick saved by Jaume Domenech to claim the record-equaling goal on Saturday, drawing level with Pele who scored the same number of goals during an 18-year career with Brazilian side Santos.
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Messi, whose first appearance for the Catalan side came as a 17-year-old in 2004, took 748 Barca games to score his 643 strikes while Pele needed just 665 games to set the record which had stood unequaled since he ended his career with Santos in 1974.
“When your heart overflows with love, it is difficult to change your path. Like you, I know what it’s like to love wearing the same shirt every day,” the three-time World Cup winner wrote on Instagram via translation.
“Like you, I know that there is nothing better than the place we feel at home. Congratulations on your historic record, Lionel. But above all, congratulations on your beautiful career at Barcelona.
“Stories like ours, of loving the same club for so long, unfortunately will be increasingly rare in football. I admire you very much.”
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Pele, 80, made his debut with Santos as a 15-year-old in 1956 and scooped six Brazilian league titles as well as two Copa Libertadores championships in his near two-decades with the club.
He departed his boyhood club in 1975 for a three-season stint in the United States with NY Cosmos where he scored a further 64 goals in 107 appearances.
However, Messi still has some way to go to eclipse Pele’s total goalscoring record in club and international football, with some tallies suggesting Pele bagged somewhere north of 1,000 total career strikes.