Lionel Messi’s milestone on surpassing the legendary footballer Pele for scoring the most number of goals for a single club was marked and celebrated recently. However, Santos, the club for which Pele had played for 19 seasons, has claimed that the Brazilian legend had scored a total of 1,091 goals for the club.
In an Instagram post, the club said that goals by their former player in prestigious friendlies should count towards his overall total.
Messi scored his 644th goal for Barcelona during the La Liga giant’s 3-0 victory over Valladoid last week. Pele’s total of 643 goals for Santos was considered the most by any player with a single club until then.
The Barcelona forward had taken to social media to thank his supporters for helping over the years. Pele, too, had congratulated Messi on achieving the milestone.
“Congratulations on your historical 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 even rarer in football. I admire you a lot,” Pele wrote.
However, Santos said the media excluded friendlies from the total number of goals.
“In the last few days, much has been said in the press and on social media about how many goals Pele scored in a Santos shirt,” the post on the Instagram page of Santos read.
“According to some statistics, the Argentine Lionel Messi (Barcelona) became the player with the most goals for a single club, when he scored 644 for the Catalans, excluding friendlies―which some call official goals.
“Pele has already congratulated Barcelona’s No. 10: ‘Stories like ours, of love for the same clubs for so long, sadly, will keep becoming rarer in football,’ O Rei [The King] wrote on social media.
“However, part of the media report the total, while excluding the best record of all: the total number of goals for the clubs. Pele scored 1,091 for Santos.
“In the expert press accounts, O Rei scored 643 in competitive matches and the 448 goals scored in friendly matches and tournaments were ostracised as if they hold less value.
“The 448 goals which today they try to disqualify, were scored against the best teams of the time. Club America (Mexico) and Colo Colo (Chile) each conceded nine goals against Pele.
“Inter Milan, one of the great European sides in the 1960s, conceded eight from O Rei. The list is immense and includes huge names: River Plate, Boca Juniors, Racing, Universidad de Chile, Real Madrid, Juventus, Lazio, Napoli, Benfica and Anderlecht.
“Even Barcelona, where Messi plays, was one of Pele’s victims. He scored four goals in four games.”
However, going by modern convention, such records count only competitive games for clubs. While international friendlies are counted alongside competitive internationals, it does not come into play in this particular record.