Football superstar Lionel Messi added another feather to his cap as the Argentina skipper overtook Brazilian legend Pele to become the leading international men’s goalscorer in South America on Thursday. He now has 79 goals to his name, two more than the three-time World Cup winner Pele, who ended his national career with 77 goals.
Lionel Messi supporters went wild celebrating after the six-time Ballon d’Or winner scored a sensational hat-trick to lead Argentina to a dominant 3-0 victory over Bolivia in their World Cup qualifying clash on Thursday night.
Although some of his admirers chose to mock Pele for criticising Messi earlier despite his immense success, both at club and international level, others called the Argentine playmaker’s display as “footballing art”.
However, others described Messi as the greatest of all time (GOAT), and a sizeable number applauded his elegant play, saying his handling of the ball is like “a cinematic film”.
Messi’s stunning show against Bolivia also saw him surpass his good friend and current Brazilian striker Neymar to emerge as the top South American goalscorer in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
With his hat-trick against Bolivia, Messi’s goal tally in qualifying games now stands at 26. He has scored eight goals in 11 matches against Bolivia.
Although Messi is now at the top of the men’s goal-scoring leader board in South America, he still trails Brazilian female icons Marta and Cristiane, who scored 109 and 96 goals respectively in international football.
The 34-year-old former Barcelona talisman is his country’s most prolific goalscorer with 79 goals in 149 appearances. In July, he led Argentina to the Copa America title, which was their first international trophy triumph in 28 years.