‘They said it was all over’ Neymar surpasses Pele in an official match in 7 months and becomes Brazil’s highest scorer, ‘making new history’
When I chose to go to the Middle East last month, 토토사이트 everyone in the soccer world thought it was over. However, the Brazilian superstar announced in his first official match in 7 months that his star status is still alive and well. Brazilian national team ace Neymar Junior (31, Al Hilal) has surpassed his idol, soccer emperor Pele.
Brazil won 5-1 against Bolivia in the first match of the 2026 FIFA North, Central and South America preliminary matches against Bolivia held at Mangueirão in Belém, Brazil on the 9th (Korean time).
The main character was Neymar. Neymar, who played his first official match for Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) since the 24th round match of Ligue 1 against LOSC Lille on February 19, got off to an uneasy start by missing a penalty kick in the 17th minute of the first half. However, Brazil took control again in the 24th minute of the first half when Rodrygo pushed the ball in to him in a mixed situation without missing it. In the 2nd minute of the second half, Rafinha, who received a pass from Neymar, shook the goal, and in the 8th minute of the second half, Rodrygo calmly kicked another penetration pass into the left corner of Bolivia’s goal.
Neymar played a key role in the team’s victory. In the 16th minute of the second half, Neymar, who was penetrating inside the penalty box, scored a goal by shooting the ball that flowed out after Rodrygo fell next to him. Bolivia then scored a consolation goal in the 33rd minute of the second half, but in the 3rd minute of added time, Rafinha volleyed a cross from the right to make it 5-1. The Bolivian goalkeeper succeeded in blocking the first attempt, but the ball flowed behind him, conceding his fifth goal.
With his multiple goals, Neymar became Brazil’s all-time leading scorer with 79 goals in 125 international matches, surpassing Pele with 77 goals in 91 games. It has been a full 13 years since he made his international debut on August 10, 2010, in a friendly match against the United States, aged 18 years, 6 months and 5 days.
As a player who continues the lineage of Brazil’s number 10 starting from Pele, Neymar has grown into the national team’s ace. His first major tournament was the 2011 Copa America in Argentina. Neymar, who led the team to the quarterfinals of the tournament with two goals in four games, won a silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics and won the FIFA Confederations Cup held at home in 2013 and was named MVP of the tournament, giving his home country Brazil its first trophy.
However, he failed to reach his peak. At the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil, he was unable to play the remainder of the match due to a collision with Juan Camilo Zúñiga in the quarterfinals, which led to Brazil’s 1-7 loss to Germany in the semifinals. This game is called the so-called tragedy or disaster of Mineirang. They only made it to the quarterfinals at the 2015 Copa America in Chile, but won the gold medal at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics by defeating Germany in a penalty shootout.
Afterwards, the personal career of ‘national team ace’ Neymar gradually went downhill. He only made it to the quarterfinals at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, and was unable to play in the 2019 Copa America Brazil, which Brazil won, due to an injury suffered in the warm-up match. In the 2021 Copa America Brazil, they lost in the final to their arch-rival Argentina and finished as runners-up, and were eliminated in the quarterfinals of the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
His club career, which was on the rise during his time at Barcelona, began to falter after moving to PSG in the 2017-2018 season. Although it has won five league championships in seven seasons, Ligue 1 is considered one step below the English Premier League (EPL), Spanish Primera Liga, Italian Serie A, and German Bundesliga among the five major leagues. In the UEFA Champions League, which was most needed, the team was unable to come close to winning the title, gradually moving away from the center of world soccer.
The transfer to Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal, which took place on the 16th of last month, was an event that symbolized Neymar’s downfall. According to French media L’Equipe, Neymar receives a whopping annual salary of 116 million euros for the two years of his contract, but he withdrew from the European stage, which is said to be the center of world soccer, at the relatively young age of 31.
In this process, his chemistry with Lee Kang-in (22, PSG), with whom he had a brief friendship for about a month, also attracted attention. The only time Lee Kang-in was on the field together after transferring from Mallorca to PSG this summer was in a pre-season friendly match against Jeonbuk Hyundai held at Busan Asiad Main Stadium on the 3rd of last month, but at that time, Neymar played a big role with 2 goals and 1 assist, raising expectations.
At the time of Neymar’s transfer, Lee Kang-in posted on his SNS, “It was a short time, but it was special to me. Thank you to Neymar. I hope good things always happen to you.” In response, Neymar also expressed his touching feelings, saying, “It was only a short time, but you have already made a place in my heart. See you later, son.”
Although it seemed like he was slowly being forgotten, Neymar succeeded in making a spectacular comeback, leaving an impact that surpassed that of Pele in his return game after about 7 months. Neymar, who gave up his club career, will now take on his final challenge at the 2026 North and Central America World Cup, which will be held three years later. His rival Lionel Messi (36, Inter Miami) also won the trophy at the 2022 Qatar World Cup, his last challenge at the age of 35, so Neymar’s challenge is not an empty one.
Neymar said after the game, “I never imagined I would reach Pele’s record. Just because I surpassed Pele in terms of goals doesn’t mean I’m better than Pele or any other Brazilian national team player.” He said, “I always try to create my own story. In that sense, I wanted to engrave my name in the history of Brazilian soccer and the national team, and I achieved that today (9th).”
There are still three years left until the next World Cup. Neymar takes on another challenge during that period. According to the American media The Athletic, the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) judged that Neymar, with 79 goals in 125 games, has not yet surpassed Pele’s record. The reason is that the Brazilian Football Association calculated that Pele scored 95 goals in 113 games. Neymar and Pele’s first team, Santos, also sided with the Brazilian Football Association.
The difference between FIFA and the Brazilian Football Association’s tally was whether or not to recognize friendlies between national teams and club teams in the past. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Brazilian national team and club teams such as Inter and Atletico Madrid played friendly matches, and Pele scored 22 goals in 18 games with the club teams. Even if we listen to the Brazilian Football Association, we only need to add 16 more goals, so it is not an impossible goal.
Regardless of the record, the Pele Football Foundation recognized Neymar’s achievements. The Pele Foundation congratulated Neymar, who passed away this year, on his official SNS, saying, “Congratulations to Neymar for surpassing Pele’s national team goal record in a FIFA A match. Pele is definitely applauding Neymar.”