Pele, the Brazilian football hero, congratulated Lionel Messi on matching his goal-scoring record at a single club that has stood for nearly half a century.
After Mouctar Diakhaby had fired the visitors into an early lead, Messi scored his 643rd competitive goal in Barcelona colors on Saturday to level against Valencia at Camp Nou.
During his time at Vila Belmiro, the figure matches Pele’s record with Santos in the official competition, although the Brazilian scored several more in friendlies and tours that are not included in the record books.
The Argentine, Barca’s all-time top scorer by some stretch, was unable to crown a memorable day with victory, as the league clash eventually ended 2-2.
But despite having to share his record now which will undoubtedly fall in the days or weeks to come, Pele expressed his admiration that another superstar has shown the same loyalty and commitment that he has shown to serve Santos for nearly two decades.
“When your heart overflows with love, it is hard to change your path,” the 80-year-old retired forward wrote on Instagram.
Like you every day, I know what it’s like to love to wear the same shirt. I know, like you, that nothing is better than the place we feel at home.
“Congratulations, Lionel, on your historic record. But most of all, congratulations on your lovely career in 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.”
In the 2020-21 Liga season, Messi now has six goals, as both he and Barcelona have struggled to demonstrate their best form under new coach Ronald Koeman, who took over from Quique Setien in the wake of Bayern Munich’s 8-2 Champions League humiliation in August.