Neymar has a new place in Brazilian soccer history.
The Hilal star scored twice in Brazil’s 5-1 win over Bolivia on Friday, with the first goal moving him past the immortal Pelé as the all-time leading scorer of Brazilian national team. Neymar entered the match tied with Pelé, who died last December, at 77 career goals.
The history-making goal came in the 61st minute, with Neymar knocking in a ball that had slipped from teammate Rodrygo to give Brazil a 4-0 lead. He celebrated the goal by mimicking Pelé’s punch in the air.
Neymar added one more goal in stoppage time.
The milestone does come with some minor caveats. The Associated Press notes that Brazil’s soccer federation actually considers Pelé to have scored 95 goals in 114 career matches — rather than 77 in 92 matches — but FIFA does not the national team friendlies he played against clubs. And while Neymar now sits atop the all-time scoring list for the Brazil men’s team, Marta remains the country’s leading scorer with 115 goals scored for the women’s team.
Friday was still a momentous occasion for one of Brazil’s greatest stars, though. It has been an eventful year for the former Ballon d’Or finalist, as he was one of many big name stars to make the lucrative move to the Saudi Pro League during the recent transfer window.
Neymar, who underwent ankle surgery in March, was also playing in his first national team match since Brazil’s disappointing quarterfinal loss to Croatia at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. He was visibly heartbroken after the final whistle sounded, having tied Pelé’s 77 goals earlier in the match but losing the chance to break the record on the world’s biggest stage.
The loss was hard enough that Neymar admitted he was unsure about his future playing for Brazil, which hasn’t hoisted the World Cup trophy since 2002, but he ultimately decided to play again for country. He didn’t have to wait long to experience a highlight.