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Samba stars: Brazil’s top five leading goalscorers of all time

Neymar made history this week after scoring twice in Brazil’s World Cup qualifying match against Bolivia to become his nation’s all-time record goalscorer.

Neymar has divided opinion during his career, but his goal record for the Selecao has placed the forward top of an illustrious list of names to have adorned the famous yellow shirt of Brazil.

His brace against Bolivia took Neymar to 79 goals for Brazil and we’ve decided to look back at the greatest goalscorers in Brazilian football history.

Brazil’s top five leading goalscorers of all time:

Zico – 48 goals

Widely regarded as the greatest Brazilian never to lift the holy grail of the World Cup, Zico was the star of one of football’s most aesthetically pleasing sides. He formed part of the Samba stars who shone at the 1982 edition of the tournament, with the midfielder scoring four times in five games.

The inspiration behind a glittering era for Flamengo at club level, Zico transferred that form onto the international stage during a lengthy career as Brazil’s finest footballer, a creative talent with an incredible passing range and an ability to score prolifically.

Unstoppable when in full flight, he memorably tormented Liverpool’s European champions during a 1982 Intercontinental Cup clash, as one of Brazil’s most loved icons weaved his magic against the Reds.

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He scored 48 goals in 71 caps for Brazil and his repertoire included many a superb set-piece, with Zico recognised as one of the best free-kick takers the game has seen.

Brazil have a storied history of producing mesmerising number 10s and Zico sits among the very best, a player who scored in both style and in numbers and who ranks firmly amongst the game’s greats.

Romario – 55 goals

Romario stands as one of the most clinical goalscorers of the modern era and proved a talismanic figure for Brazil at the peak of his powers.

The forward plundered an incredible 55 goals in just 70 caps and won the Golden Ball award after inspiring Brazil to success at the 1994 World Cup.

Copa America and Confederations Cup trophies were added three years later during a calendar year that delivered a staggering 19 goals in just 17 appearances for the national team, a peak Romario amongst the deadliest frontmen of all time.

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The diminutive star was explosive and lethal around the penalty area, an instinctive finisher whose peak proved all too brief despite its brilliance.

No player in the modern era can better the goal-per-game ratio Romario posted for Brazil, with the forward named as the FIFA World Player of the Year during his prolific reign as the nation’s finest.

90s Hitmen: Romario, a Brazilian goalscoring genius

Ronaldo – 62 goals

There are few players who have burst onto the scene quite like a young Ronaldo, a player who rapidly established himself as the game’s most exciting talent.

Having been an unused member of Brazil’s 1994 World Cup winning squad, he headed to the tournament as his nation’s great hope four years later, having scored over 200 career goals and in possession of two FIFA World Player of the Year awards won by the age of 21.

He dazzled to be named as the tournament’s best player, but was powerless to prevent Brazil losing the final to France after suffering a fit on the eve of the showpiece, his story one of both success and struggle.

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Serious injuries raised the prospect of Ronaldo never truly reaching those heights again but his third World Cup saw him inspire Brazil to glory, finishing as the tournament’s leading scorer and netting both goals in the 2-0 final victory over Germany in 2002.

It was a sensational redemption for a player who captivated a generation, a forward who produced magical footwork at breakneck speed to leave opposition defenders stunned and supporters in awe.

He finished his career as the greatest goalscorer in World Cup history – later eclipsed by Miroslav Klose – and with 62 goals in just 98 appearances for Brazil, a formidable record and one that could have been even greater but for bad luck with injuries.

Ronaldo’s redemption at the 2002 World Cup

Pele – 77 goals

The godfather of Brazilian football and a player for who the nation’s finest will forever be compared to, Pele played an influential role in establishing his country as arguably world football’s most celebrated nation.

Pele burst onto the scene with his performances at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, where the 17-year-old sensation scored a semi-final hat-trick and two more in the final as Brazil were crowned as champions of the world for the first time.

He added two more winners’ medals in 1962 and 1970 respectively, remaining the only player in history to have lifted the game’s biggest prize on three occasions.

The striker’s showings revolutionised the game as he starred as the symbolic superstar of the Selecao, scoring a record-breaking 77 goals in 92 caps over a 14-year international career.

To many, he remains the best to have ever played the game and is undoubtedly among the most iconic and influential players in the sport’s history.

Neymar – 79 goals

Neymar is now Brazil’s all-time record goalscorer after scoring his 78th and 79th goals for his country against Bolivia.

He made his debut for the national side as a teenager and has been Brazil’s talisman for much of an international career that has seen the forward win 125 caps to date, with only two players having ever appeared more for the Selecao.

Neymar’s failure to win a major tournament with the national team leaves an asterisk against his legacy for Brazil, but a goal record which has seen him eclipse all-time greats in Pele and Ronaldo means he will forever be associated with the South American’s best.

The 31-year-old remains a key part of plans moving forward, despite swapping European football for the Middle East this summer.

Neymar signed for Al-Hilal in the Saudi Pro League in a €90m deal after six seasons with Paris Saint-Germain.

Read – Midfield Magicians: Juninho Pernambucano, the ultimate free-kick master

Read Also – Iconic Performances: A teenage Pelé conquers the world

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