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Jun 25, 2014

Perspective needed on Neymar goal milestone

Brazil fans declared striker Neymar to be better than legend Pele, following their 4-1 win over Cameroon

Neymar appears in all the national newspapers. The daily paper Marca has run with an article entitled: "A legend at 22 years of age," while Gazzetta dello Sport talks about his significant numbers: 35 goals, the sixth top goal scorer in the history of the Seleção.

- Macintosh: Neymar genius papers over Selecao cracks
- Duarte: Scolari gets it right versus Cameroon
- Report: FIFA admits TV error over Fred goal

And what's more is that Neymar is the youngest player to reach this goal tally. Pelé scored goal No. 35 aged 22 years and 5 months; Ronaldo at age 22 years and 11 months; and now Neymar at age 22 years and 4 months.

His feat is unquestionable, but we need to dot the I's. Neymar is amazing, and his number of goals is incredible, but he has achieved it across a large number of matches.

Neymar scored his 35th goal for Brazil in Monday's win over Cameroon.
Neymar scored his 35th goal for Brazil in Monday's win over Cameroon.

Pelé scored his 35th goal in 1963 in his 34th game. That's more than a goal a game. Neymar reached goal No. 35 in his 52nd game. Romário and Ronaldo both hit goal No. 35 after exactly 52 games.

Neymar is a phenomenon because he is indispensable and plays in all the Brazilian team's matches at the age of 22, an age at which Zico hadn't even made his debut in the first XI. This is the major difference.

Top six goal scorers for the Seleção in reaching goal No. 35:

1. Pelé (77 goals) -- Goal 35 -- 22 years and 5 months -- Game No. 34

2. Ronaldo (62 goals) -- Goal 35 -- 22 years and 11 months -- Game No. 52

3. Romário (55 goals) -- Goal 35 -- 31 years -- Game No. 52

4. Zico (48 goals) -- Goal 35 -- 28 years -- Game No. 51

5. Bebeto (39 goals) -- Goal 35 -- 32 years -- Game No. 63

6. Neymar (35 goals) -- Goal 35 -- 22 years and 4 months -- Game No. 52

Paulo Vinicius Coelho

Paulo Vinicius Coelho ("PVC") is a veteran Brazilian sports journalist who has covered four World Cups and five Champions League finals. He is a football specialist, ESPN commentator in Brazil and columnist for Folha de S. Paulo, a popular Brazilian daily. He has written six books, including "Bola Fora," a history of the exodus of Brazilian players. Follow him on Twitter @pvcespn.