Gary Neville said that his former Manchester United teammate Cristiano Ronaldo is probably waiting to surpass Pele’s record of most number of goals scored before he even considers quitting.
According to Neville, Ronaldo will not retire until he surpassed Pele as the greatest goal scorer in football history. “His drive was out of this world to become the best in the world. He’s one of the very few players that I’ve played with that would publicly announce that the individual trophies were important to him,” Neville told Sky Sports News.
Pele is still regarded as the top scorer of all time, having scored 1,282 times in 1,363 games (although this statistic includes a number of goals scored in friendly matches and unofficial friendships).
“He just wanted to be the very, very best in the world and it’s so important to him. It’s an obsession. Absolute obsession with scoring goals. Applying himself every single day, being the fittest he can possibly be. I think he’s lifted his professionalism every single year and progressed,” Neville says, hinting it is Pele’s record that he has his eye on.
Ronaldo, now 35, is still a long way behind Pele with 725 club and country career goals, but Neville says he’ll be willing to play until he’s statistically the best ever.
Neville goes on, “Jamie [Carragher] mentioned before about James Milner wanting to play into his late 30s and 40s. I think he [Ronaldo] has a plan to go on and take over Pele’s record. I genuinely believe he wants to go on and beat Pele’s numbers.
“That’s where I think he’s at in his mind, he wants to be the greatest of all time, that is his sole purpose, understanding that along the way if he is the greatest of all time, the teams that he plays for will win trophies and be successful.”
Ronaldo is now on the verge of becoming the top foreign goal scorer ever, with only Iran’s Ali Daei having scored more than Portugal’s 99 talisman.