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Santos says Lionel Messi did not break Pelé’s record

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The club claim the Brazilian legend scored 1,091 for them

Real Valladolid v FC Barcelona - La Liga Santander Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

While most of the football world was celebrating Lionel Messi’s 644th goal for FC Barcelona as the moment the Argentine surpassed the record held by Pelé for most goals for a single club, the Brazilian club Santos was issuing a formal dispute.

Santos FC claim Pelé scored 1,091 goals for them, putting him far beyond the reach of the Argentine, who would need 448 to surpass him in that case.

The number comes from counting goals scored in friendly matches, which Santos maintains are nonetheless official games.

“The matches were played in official uniforms, with the official rules of the game and with a score sheet,” says Santos’ statement.

“A goal against Transvaal (from Suriname) has the same value as a goal scored at Real Madrid, in the middle of the Santiago Bernabéu.”

However, modern convention holds that goalscoring records count competitive games for clubs only. International friendlies are also counted, apart from competitive internationals, but of course, that does not come into play in this particular record.

Interestingly, Pelé himself recognized that Messi had surpassed him.

“Congratulations on your historic record, Lionel. But above all, congratulations on your beautiful career at FC Barcelona,” the Brazilian legend wrote.