Pele backs Neymar to break his Brazil goalscoring record

Robbie Copeland
Pele wants to see Neymar shatter his record
Pele wants to see Neymar shatter his record / Wagner Meier/Getty Images

Pele has sent an emotional message to Neymar after the striker moved to within ten goals of his international record, saying he is 'rooting for him' to become Brazil's all-time top scorer.

Pele's 77 goals in 92 caps for Brazil seemed like it might never be broken, with even the great Ronaldo Nazario failing to come close despite playing more often for his country. But seven goals in his Neymar's last five caps have made it a reality.

His latest strike came against Peru, as Brazil cruised to a 4-0 victory in the Copa America, and leaves him on 67 international goals. 11 more will see him overtake Pele as Brazil's all-time top scorer, and cement his status as one of South American football's all-time greats.

And while Pele has been somewhat protective of his records, he has taken to Instagram to pay tribute to Neymar as he tries to overtake him.

He wrote: "Every time I see this boy, he is smiling. It's impossible not to smile back. It is contagious. I, like all Brazilians, am always happy when I see him playing soccer.

"Today, he took another step towards my goalscoring record for the Seleção. 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."

Speaking after the game, Neymar broke down in tears when it was pointed out to him that he is just ten goals away from matching the immortal Pele's record.

He said, via globo.com: "It is obvious that for me it is a great honour to be part of the history of the Brazilian team. To be quite honest, my dream was always to play for the national team, to wear this shirt. 

"I never imagined reaching those numbers. For me it's even exciting, because I went through a lot in these two years that are very difficult, complicated, and those numbers are nothing. 

"The happiness I have to play for Brazil, to represent my country, my family.

"We are living in a very unusual time all over the world, not just here, and being a mirror for someone is a huge joy. I hope everyone who likes football likes me."