Lionel Messi scored his 79th international goal on Thursday night to break Pele’s South American men’s record.
Messi scored all three goals in Argentina’s qualifying victory over Bolivia in Buenos Aires, which gave him two more goals than the legendary Brazilian star.
Only the Brazilian stars Marta (109) and Cristiane (96) scored more overall international goals than the star of Argentina, because he achieved his place as the best goal scorer on the continent.
What did Messi say?
“I really wanted to enjoy it,” Messi said after the game. “I waited a long time for this, I was looking for it and I dreamed about it. It’s a unique moment for the way it happened after so much waiting.
There was no better way to celebrate it than to be here. My mother, my brothers are in the stands … They suffered a lot and today they are celebrating here. I’m very happy. “
Another point for Messi
With the three goals on Thursday, Messi also surpassed former teammate and longtime friend Luis Suarez to become the leading scorer in CONMEBOL’s qualification for the Men’s World Cup.
He now has 26 career goals in qualifying, while the hat-trick also gives him eight career goals against Bolivia in 11 matches, making him the opponent against whom Argentina was the most prolific.
Messi has been Argentina’s biggest fruit scorer since 2016, when he surpassed Gabriel Batistuta (54 goals).
The Argentine helped lead his country to the Copa America title this summer, his first major international silverware with his country.