Cristiano Ronaldo explained his “everlasting and unconditional admiration” for Pele after the Juventus star surpassed the Brazil legend’s tally to become the top goalscorer in history.
Ronaldo scored a perfect hat-trick on Sunday to inspire Juve to a 3-1 win over Cagliari in Serie A and move onto 770 career goals.
Pele, who spent 18 years with Santos before moving to play in the United States in 1975, scored 757 official goals in his career, helping Brazil win three World Cups.
Ronaldo hit that total in January, but there was some confusion over Pele possibly scoring another 10 goals which could be counted among official statistics – nine for Sao Paulo State and one for the Brazilian Military Team.
As such, Ronaldo insisted he waited until he surpassed 767 goals to celebrate.
“The last few weeks were filled with news and stats considering me the world’s top scorer in football history, overcoming Pele’s 757 official goals,” Ronaldo wrote on Instagram.
“Although I’m thankful for that recognition, now it’s time for me to explain why I didn’t acknowledge that record until this moment.
“My everlasting and unconditional admiration for mister Edson Arantes do Nascimento, such as the respect that I have for mid-20th century football, led me to take into account his 767 scores, assuming his nine goals for Sao Paulo State Team, as well as his single goal for the Brazilian Military Team, as official goals.
“The world has changed since then and football has changed as well, but this doesn’t mean that we can just erase history according to our interests
“Today, as I reach the 770 official goals in my professional career, my first words go straight to Pele. There’s no player in the world who hasn’t been raised listening to stories about his games, his goals and his achievements, and I’m no exception.
“For that reason, I’m filled with joy and pride as I acknowledge the goal that puts me on top of the world’s goalscoring list, overcoming Pele’s record, something that I could never have dreamed of while growing up as a child from Madeira.
“Thanks to all of those who took part of this amazing journey with me. To my team-mates, to my opponents, to the fans of the beautiful game all over the world and, above all, to my family and close friends: trust me when I say that I couldn’t have done it without you.”
Prior to Ronaldo’s Instagram post, Pele had used his official Twitter account to congratulate the 36-year-old Portugal star.
“Cristiano, what a beautiful journey you are having!” Pele tweeted.
“I admire you a lot and this is no secret to anyone. Congratulations on breaking my record of goals in official matches. I leave this photo in your honour, with great affection, as a symbol of a friendship that has existed for many years.”
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