When Lionel Messi walked out at the Camp Nou on Saturday to face Valencia, the Argentinean was on the cusp of Pele’s goalscoring record. The Brazilian scored 643 times for Santos in his career, the most goals scored by a player for a single club in the history of the beautiful game - a record that stood for nearly five decades.
On Saturday, after going behind a goal in the first half, Barcelona won a penalty just before the break. Lionel Messi missed from the spot but scored with a header that was set up by Jordi Alba. That was Lionel Messi's 643rd goal in his 748th game for the Spanish giants.
Barcelona took the lead through Ronald Araujo right after the break, but Valencia responded through Maxi Gomez in the 69th minute. The game eventually ended 2-2, a result that dropped the Blaugrana to fifth place in the 2020-21 La Liga table.
Lionel Messi’s loyalty to Barcelona is a rarity in modern football, says Pele
Pele played largely for Santos before finishing his career with New York Cosmos. Lionel Messi has spent his entire career so far at the Camp Nou despite being criticised for not taking up a new challenge elsewhere.
The Brazilian, though, understands the loyalty that binds Lionel Messi with Barcelona, saying in this regard:
"When your heart overflows with love, it is difficult to change your path, Like you, I know what it''s like to love wearing the same shirt every day. Like you, I know that there is nothing better than the place we feel at home."
The Brazilian went on to congratulate Lionel Messi, noting how the loyalty exhibited by him as well as the Argentinean is a rarity in the game. Pele also expressed his admiration for the Barcelona captain, saying:
"Congratulations on your historic record, Lionel. But above all, congratulations on your beautiful career at Barcelona. Stories like ours, of loving the same club for so long, unfortunately, will be increasingly rare in football. I admire you very much, @leomessi!"Published 20 Dec 2020, 18:25 IST