Legendary footballer Pele has paid a rich tribute to Lionel Messi after the Barcelona forward equalled the Brazilian legend’s record of being the highest goalscorer ever for a single club.
Messi equalled Pele’s tally of 643 goals for Santos with a header at the stroke of halftime in Barcelona’s 2-2 home draw with Valencia in LaLiga on Saturday evening.
“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. Like you, I know that there is nothing better than the place we feel at home,” Pele said in an Instagram post.
“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.”
While Messi achieved the feat across 17 seasons in 748 games, Pele needed only 665 games to reach the figure.
Pele, the only player to have won the World Cup three times, holds the Guinness world record for most goals in a career with 1,283, including friendlies.
The 80-year-old, who played his last game for Santos in 1974, is one of the greatest players ever to grace the game. He is Brazil’s all-time highest scorer with 77 goals in 92 international matches from 1957 to 1971.
And there’s another Pele record that Messi has in his sights. The 77 goals that the Brazilian scored for his country are still a South American record. But the 33-year-old Messi has 71 for Argentina, and needs just six more to equal that number.