When Barcelona and Argentina superstar Lionel Messi netted his 86th goal of the season on Sunday, the celebration of the little striker's record for most goals in a calendar year commenced.
Messi's fans stood in awe, proclaiming their idol as the greatest football player that has ever lived.
Detractors, on the other hand, used whatever statistics they could find to try to minimize the Argentine's feat (i.e. Messi having a lower goal-to-match ratio than the previous record holder, German Gerd Muller).
Over the past few days, though, the Zambia FA made a proclamation that, if true, would render all of those discussion moot. According to the FA's statements, Godfrey Chitalu's whopping 107 goal output in 1972 for both Zambia's national team and club Kabwe Warriors dwarfs Messi's record.
Now, another nation seems to be making a challenge to the validity of Messi's record: Brazil.
Brazilian club Flamengo have claimed that retired superstar Zico scored 89 goals over all competitions back in 1979: 81 coming with club, seven with country and one more in a one-off match. What would make the Brazilian's tally even more incredible is that he was out with injury for two months of that year.
While it may seem suspicious that these organizations are coming out of the woodwork to dispute Messi's record only after he has achieved it, it does make some sense with some perspective.
You see, the record of "most goals in a calendar year" is not a widely recognized statistic. I mean, football isn't played over a calendar year, right?
The first time most of these nations heard about the record was the hubbub caused by Messi's 86th goal on Sunday.
Now, that does not lend validity to these claims, but it does mean that we should not dismiss them until the facts behind them are presented.
Luckily for Messi, the fact that he sits on 88 goals with two matches left in the year means that there is a good chance he will render Zico's claim moot.
As for Chitalu, that is another story.
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