Sports Neymar will soon surpass Pele's Brazil goalscoring record - so why is his legacy still in doubt?

01:55  23 june  2021
01:55  23 june  2021 Source:   sportingnews.com

Infighting, scandal and Covid cast a shadow over Brazil's Copa America

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Neymar will soon surpass Pele ' s Brazil goalscoring record - so Neymar is known for wearing his heart on his sleeve when he pulls on Brazil 's iconic yellow shirt. However, despite his wonderful showings over the last decade, there is still a question mark over Neymar 's ultimate legacy with Brazil .

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Neymar is known for wearing his heart on his sleeve when he pulls on Brazil's iconic yellow shirt.

So it was no surprise that, after another towering performance for the Selecao which put him in touching distance of Pele's goal record, the Paris Saint-Germain forward struggled to hold back the tears.

“It is an honour for me to form part of Brazil national team history,” he said after netting against Peru in the Copa America on Thursday to take his tally to 68, just nine short of the World Cup legend of the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

“I could never have imagined reaching these numbers. It even moves me because I have been through a lot these past two years, which were difficult and complicated.

CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying Qatar 2022: TV, schedule, results, standings for South American Eliminatorias

  CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying Qatar 2022: TV, schedule, results, standings for South American Eliminatorias Lionel Messi's Argentina and Neymar's Brazil are among the high profile South American teams competing to qualify to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The top four qualify directly and the fifth-place team will advance to an intercontinental playoff.Despite the March 2021 match postponements due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the South American soccer confederation (aka CONMEBOL) is planning to reschedule any outstanding matches at some point in 2022. The soccer calendar should allow for it because the Qatar World Cup is scheduled to be played from Nov. 21 through Dec. 18, 2022.

Only Pele stands ahead of Neymar in Brazil ’s goalscoring charts after he overtook Ronaldo on Tuesday, but even if he earns the record he won’t be revered like the two legends even if he helps the Selecao win the FIFA World Cup. Neymar scored three times to help Brazil beat Peru 4-2 in their 2022 World Cup qualifier this week. Neymar needs 14 more goals to overtake Pele ’ s 77 and become Brazil ’s record goalscorer, and he must play 40 more games to overtake Cafu’s record of 142 appearances.

Pele holds Brazil ' s goalscoring record with 77 goals for his country. Cafu, who made 142 appearances for Brazil , is adamant Neymar will write his name in the history books by scoring at least another 28 goals. He told FIFA: 'All records exist only to be beaten. Of course, Neymar has got it in him.

“Now we are going through an atypical moment, hard times across the whole world, and to bring joy to someone in turn makes me very happy. I want my family and friends to be proud.”

There is plenty for Neymar to be proud of. After experiencing the anguish of missing out on Brazil's triumphant Copa campaign two years ago through injury, and the long lay-off due to Covid-19, he has come back better than ever in international colours.

Since Brazil returned to the pitch in 2020, their star has netted seven times in six games while also contributing six assists, meaning he was directly involved in 13 of the 20 goal Tite's men notched in those encounters.

The nation have won every one of their last 10 games, and can make it three wins out of three in the 2021 Copa on Wednesday should they take down struggling Colombia. As tricky and impossible to slow down as always, Neymar has been a key figure in that golden run.

Committed Brazil a favorite to defend Copa America title

  Committed Brazil a favorite to defend Copa America title SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazil’s international players were reluctant to play in the Copa America on home soil. Now that they’re committed, they're favored to win it. Argentina still looms as a threat to Brazil's title defense, but now as a visiting team. Argentina and Colombia were dropped as tournament co-hosts before Brazil contentiously stepped in late to stage the continental championship. Being away from home takes some pressure off Lionel Messi and his Argentina team. The Copa America will kick off Sunday with defending champion Brazil against Venezuela at the Mané Garrincha stadium in Brasilia.

Neymar ’ s Brazil side famously stumbled to a humiliating 7-1 defeat to Germany in the semi-final of the 2014 World Cup, despite being the host nation. And while Neymar was absent for that defeat with a back injury, he was present in 2018 as Belgium knocked out Brazil from the World Cup in Russia by Asked by DAZN about the controversy, Mourinho admitted Neymar is one of the world’ s best talents with an impressive track record in the club game, but that his international exploits hold him back when compared to other Brazil greats. " Neymar is a fantastic talent and nobody can doubt that,” Mourinho

Brazil legend Pele has praised his country's current star Neymar as 'an excellent young player' but says he will never replace him as the footballing 'king' even if he matches his goalscoring record . Neymar has scored 42 international goals despite only turning 23 last month, and Pele ' s Brazilian record of 77 strikes is well within his sights with a long career at the top still ahead of him. But the 74-year-old Brazilian icon feels that even if the young pretender can match his incredible feat, he will still not be considered in the same class as him.

He may no longer be the nation's permanent captain, but he remains the biggest icon on the field and the focus of all attention; the main source of creative genius in a team which generally values organisation and solidity over flashes of individual inspiration.

However, despite his wonderful showings over the last decade, there is still a question mark over Neymar's ultimate legacy with Brazil. It is once more a question of numbers, three versus zero - the total number of World Cups lifted by Pele and his apparent heir respectively, and a statistic which has been used as a stick with which to beat the PSG superstar throughout his career.

Comparing the pair solely on one tournament is of course a futile exercise. For one thing, football has changed immensely since Pele's heyday, making any parallels between the two generations impossible to make.

Neymar, for instance, his every move filmed and documented since he first burst onto the scene at Santos as a teenager, has never enjoyed the element of surprise that 17-year-old Pele and his brilliant Selecao team-mates, effective strangers to the unsuspecting European contingent, had when they bulldozed their way through Sweden in 1958.

Brazil beats Venezuela to the kick-off of the COPA América

 Brazil beats Venezuela to the kick-off of the COPA América host and defending champion Brazil was successfully launched in Copa América. The team around Superstar Neymar won the opening match of the South American Championship on Sunday (local time) against Venezuela in the Stadium Mané Garrincha in Brasília 3-0 (1: 0). The hits achieved defender Marquinhos after a corner kick of Neymar in the 23rd minute, Neymar by penalty (64.) and Gabriel "Gabigol" Barbosa (89th). Venezuela Sergio Córdova was replaced by Arminia Bielefeld.

Neymar surpassed Ronaldo and moved to second on Brazil 's all-time goalscoring list with a hat-trick in a 4-2 win against Peru in World Cup qualifying. Two penalties and a last-minute tap-in took the Paris Saint-Germain forward's tally to 64 for his country, two ahead of Ronaldo and 13 behind Pele ' s all-time record of 77. Everton's Richarlison scored Brazil 's other goal as the five-time world champion twice had to come from behind to secure the win.

Pele ' s tally of 77 Brazil goals puts him well ahead of the pack, but Cafu, Brazil 's record appearance holder, thinks Neymar 's quality and age means he is going to break the mark. Cafu told FIFA: "All records exist only to be beaten. On his own record of 142 caps, which looks tougher to beat, Cafu added: "I think this is understandable because no one has played for Brazil over such a long period of time as me - 16 years! "It is purely down to strength of will, my devotion to football and the effort I put in during all this time."

Four years later the great man was effectively kicked out of the World Cup in Chile, similar to how Neymar's campaign in 2014 succumbed to a brutal hit from Colombia's Camilo Zuniga and an injured spine.

Brazil could nevertheless call on otherworldly talents like Garrincha, Zito, Vava and Amarildo to see them through to glory; whereas without Neymar, Luiz Felipe Scolari's team folded in humiliating circumstances to Germany in that infamous 7-1 destruction.

Neymar in a blue shirt: Neymar Brazil GFX © Provided by Sporting News Neymar Brazil GFX

In 2018, too, ill-fortune of a different kind intervened to destroy his World Cup dreams, namely Thibaut Courtois. The Belgium goalkeeper put in the performance of a lifetime to deny one of the favourites to take the title – inflicting in the process the only defeat Brazil have suffered competitively in the five years Tite has sat in the hot-seat.

One man at least is convinced that Neymar has nothing more to prove: none other than Pele himself.

“Every time I see this boy, he is smiling. It's impossible not to smile back. It is contagious,” O Rei wrote on Instagram, while sharing a picture of the record-breaking pair.

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“I, like all Brazilians, am always happy when I see him playing soccer. Today, he took another step towards my goalscoring record for the Selecao.

“And I'm rooting for him to get there, with the same joy I've had since I saw him play for the first time.”

It now seems inevitable that Pele's record, which has stood since his retirement from international football in 1971, will soon pass into new hands.

Neymar may not reach the mark in the possible four games that Brazil have left in the Copa, should they reach the final, but it is more than likely that he will be Brazil's top scorer by the time the Selecao arrive in Qatar for their latest attempt to win that dearly desired sixth World Cup title.

One solitary major international title, the 2013 Confederations Cup, and Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro three years later is a poor return for the star's international career to date, and a win in this current Copa would be a huge boost for him and an answer to those critics who continue to doubt his Brazil record next to Pele and those other illustrious predecessors.

The big prize is in Qatar, though, and even if the king insists that the current prince is an idol in his own right, victory a year-and-a-half from now would ensure once and for all that Neymar has earned the right to enter the Selecao pantheon among some of the greatest players ever to step onto a football field.

Brazil in the final of Copa America .
Brazil qualified for the final of the Copa America by offering Peru (1-0), on the night of Monday to Tuesday, in Rio de Janeiro. © Panoramic Neymar Brazil Brazil qualified for the final of Copa America, who will argue on his soil, Maracana on Saturday night. The Brazilians beat Peru after a very good period and a less good second act.

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