Fans are famous for never agreeing on their favourite stars with generations of supporters unwilling to give an inch on their GOAT picks.
The modern dominance of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo has opened up one of the most divisive debates among football fans across the globe.
However, history is littered with incredible stars in the pre-Messi/Ronaldo era, including Diego Maradona, Johan Cruyff and Michel Platini.
Each player has their own merits to be considered the all time No.1, but in terms of goals, few can rival Brazilian superstar Pele.
MORE: Why Pele is considered one of the greatest players of all-time
How many goals did Pele score?
If the GOAT debate splits fans of all ages and loyalties, the argument over history’s top marksman is equally fractured, despite its apparent clarity.
At face value, summing up the final career tallies should be straightforward, but records lack universal standards between club and international matches, including reserve team matches and friendlies.
Today, Ronaldo is officially recognized in the top spot, with 819 goals for club and country at the end of 2022. However, the list is far from universally accepted, with record keeping from the start of the 20th century incredibly difficult to verify across all levels.
Pele’s FIFA confirmed total is 757 goals, good for fifth all-time, but the man himself infamously disputes this, claiming to have netted a whopping 1,283 despite a distinct lack of proof.
I have scored 1283 goals in my life,
— Pelé (@Pele) September 25, 2015
FIFA and CONMEBOL previously registered Pele with 1,281 goals in 1,363 games, but these included youth, friendly and non-official games.
According to the widely cited RSSSF organization (Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation), the totals and rankings are also different, and the Guinness Book of World Records have Pele on 1,279 goals, as exhibition goals are prohibited in their count.
Pele’s steadfast position is difficult to dispute, despite the data favouring Ronaldo, but the 81-year-old leads the way in ‘overall games’.
MORE: Who did Pele play for in his career?
Pele goals scored all-time
Working from his list of 757 goals recognised by FIFA, Pele’s exploits come from a relatively sample team sample size, including Santos, New York Cosmos and the Brazilian national team.
- Campeonato Paulista: 468 goals
- Torneio Rio–Sao Paulo: 49 goals
- Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A: 101 goals
- Copa Libertadores: 17 goals
- Intercontinental Cup: 8 goals
New York Cosmos (1975-1977)
- League: 31 goals
- Playoffs: 6 goals
MORE: Pele’s Netflix documentary
How many trophies did Pele win?
Pele enjoyed a trophy-filled career on the domestic, continental and international level with 38 team trophies spread across 16 years from 1961 to 1977.
- Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A (6): 1961-65, 1968
- Copa Libertadores (2): 1962, 1963
- Intercontinental Cup (2): 1962, 1963
- Intercontinental Super Cup (1): 1968
- South American Super Cup (1): 1968
- Campeonato Paulista (10): 1958, 1960-62, 1964-65, 1967-69, 1973
- Torneio Rio-Sao Paulo (4): 1959, 1963, 1964, 1966
New York Cosmos
- NASL Soccer Bowl (1): 1977
- NASL Atlantic Conference Championship (1): 1977
- FIFA World Cup (3): 1958, 1962, 1970
- Taca do Atlantico (1): 1960
- Roca Cup (2): 1957, 1963
- Taca Oswaldo Cruz (3): 1958, 1962, 1968
- Bernardo O’Higgins Cup (1): 1959
MORE: Best Pele goal highlight reels on YouTube
Which clubs did Pele play for?
Pele played the bulk of his club career with Brazilian side Santos, making his senior team debut in 1956. He opted for a career swan song in the United States with the New York Cosmos in 1975.
- Campeonato Paulista: 410 matches
- Torneio Rio–Sao Paulo: 53 matches
- Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A: 173 matches
- Copa Libertadores: 15 matches
- Intercontinental Cup: 8 matches
New York Cosmos (1975-1977)
- League + Playoffs: 64 matches
- International matches: 92 matches
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