Neymar made history this week with a clinical hat-trick in Brazil’s World Cup qualifying win over Peru in Lima, his treble moving the forward into second amongst the Selecao’s all-time record goalscorers.
It is a remarkable achievement for the Paris Saint-Germain forward who has scored prolifically on the international stage in the famous yellow colours of the South American superpower, following in a long line of illustrious talents to have represented the five-time world champions.
Following the forward’s latest goals we’ve decided to look back at the greatest goalscorers in Brazilian football history, here are 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, 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, one of Brazil’s most loved icons weaving his magic against the Reds.
He scored 48 goals in 71 caps for Brazil and his repertoire including many a superb set-piece, 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 amongst 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, plundering an incredible 55 goals in just 70 caps and winning the Golden Ball award after inspiring the nation 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 at international level, a peak Romario amongst the most deadly frontmen of all-time.
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, the forward named as the FIFA World Player of the Year during his prolific reign as the nation’s finest.
Ronaldo – 62 goals
There are few players who have burst onto the scene quite like a young Ronaldo, a player who lifted the World Cup as an unused teenage member of Brazil’s 1994 squad before rapidly establishing himself as the game’s most exciting talent.
Four years later he headed to another World Cup as the nation’s great hope, having scored over 200 career goals and won two FIFA World Player of the Year awards 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 after suffering a fit on the eve of the showpiece, his story one of much success as well as struggle.
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 Japan.
It was a sensational redemption for a player who captivated a generation, a forward who produced magical footwork at breakneck speeds to leave opposition 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 perhaps have been even greater but for bad luck with injuries.
Neymar – 64 goals
Neymar’s hat-trick in Peru saw him move clear of Ronaldo and into second place in Brazil’s all-time rankings, the Paris Saint-Germain star having racked up 64 goals in 103 caps since his international debut.
The forward’s record has undoubtedly been padded by the increase in international fixtures and notably friendlies, though his place in these rankings remains impressive, as is a record of 22 goals in 37 caps in competitive fixtures.
Neymar Jr 🇧🇷
Forever a Brazilian football legend 🌟 pic.twitter.com/gT3yEZRXvm
— Goal (@goal) October 14, 2020
Lifting the World Cup remains the pinnacle for any Brazilian, however, and Neymar saw a home tournament wrecked by injury six years ago before scoring twice as Brazil were eliminated in the quarter-finals during the 2018 edition in Russia.
Still just 28-years-old, the opportunity remains for the star to write his name into Brazil’s history with a defining tournament, whilst he will now firmly have his eyes set on becoming his country’s greatest ever goalscorer.
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 illustrious national side.
Pele burst onto the scene with his performances in the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, the 17-year-old sensation scoring 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 amongst the most iconic, his legend living on over four decades after his retirement from the sport.
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