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Lionel Messi Passes Pele for Most International Goals by South American Player

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 10, 2021

JUAN IGNACIO RONCORONI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Lionel Messi rewrote the record book again.

The Paris Saint-Germain star scored in the 14th and 64th minute of a 2022 World Cup qualifier against Bolivia. By doing so, he passed Brazil legend Pele for the most international goals by a South American.

B/R Football @brfootball

Lionel Messi passes Pele to become the leading goalscorer in CONMEBOL history with 78 goals ✨ <a href="https://t.co/hWd8sEXFjL">pic.twitter.com/hWd8sEXFjL</a>

Messi laid waste to a number of impressive benchmarks during his time with Barcelona. One achievement remains somewhat contentious, though.

The 34-year-old scored his 644th goal for Barca last December, which was the most ever for a single club and put him ahead of Pele. Santos, however, contended that Pele had 1,091 goals across both official fixtures and friendlies.

While he's the king in South America, chasing down the all-time mark across all continents is probably impossible, even for one of the greatest in the sport's history.

Cristiano Ronaldo netted the winner in a 2-1 victory over the Republic of Ireland on Sept. 1. The five-time Ballon d'Or winner has scored 111 times for Portugal, catapulting him ahead of Iran's Ali Daei at the top of the men's international goalscoring chart.

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