The 79-year-old, who shot to fame as a teenager when Brazil won the 1958 World Cup, was retired long before Messi was even born. But if he had his pick of any of today’s top players to play alongside it would be the Argentine living legend.
In an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport (via Mundo Deportivo), Pelé expressed his admiration for Cristiano Ronaldo and wishes for fellow countryman Neymar to have ‘better days’ after falling on hard times.
When it came to Messi, he admitted he would have liked to ‘play with’ the Barcelona superstar.
Pelé is lauded for having scored 1,281 goals during his career. The milestone 1,000th was scored for Santos against Vasco da Gama at the iconic Estádio Maracanã on 19 November 1969, the 50th anniversary of which is now rapidly approaching.
But both Ronaldo and Messi could overtake the great Brazilian, widely regarded as the greatest goalscorer of all time, when it comes to official goals scored for club and country.
While Pelé’s 1,281 goals are considered a Guinness World Record, the tally includes goals scored in friendlies and unofficial games counted towards the overall total.
When only goals in official club or international games are counted, his career goal tally is 767 – a huge figure that is still truly phenomenal.
At the age of 34, Ronaldo recently scored his 700th career goal and is now on 702. Slightly younger at 32, Messi has scored 691 career goals, which also includes 11 in Spain’s lower leagues.
At least as far as international goals are concerned, Neymar could one day overtake Pelé as Brazil’s all-time leading scorer. The Paris Saint-Germain player is only 27 years of age but has already netted 61 times for the Seleção, just 16 shy of Pelé’s longstanding national record of 77.