The sporting world lost an icon on Friday when Brazilian superstar Pele lost his battle with cancer at the age of 82.
His family confirmed his passing by releasing a statement on Friday morning (AEDT).
“On his journey, Edson enchanted the world with his genius in sport, stopped a war, carried out social works all over the world and spread what he most believed to be the cure for all our problems: love.
“His message today becomes a legacy for future generations. Love, love and love, forever.”
Named athlete of the century by the International Olympic Committee in 1999, Pele is the only footballer in history to win three World Cups — 1958, 1962 and 1970.
Nicknamed “O Rei” (The King), he’s said to have scored more than 1000 goals in one of the most storied careers in sport, before retiring in 1977.
His place among the greatest to ever place the game cannot be questioned. But it’s the question of just how many goals he scored throughout his historic career that to this day, remains unanswered.
Depending on where you go for your stats will alter just how historic Pele’s 21-year professional career was.
FIFA and record-keeping partner RSSSF (Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation) have Pele credited with 77 international goals and 680 club goals across his career.
That figure of 757 career goals would place him fifth on the all-time list, behind Romario (772), Lionel Messi (793), Josef Bican (805) and Cristiano Ronaldo (819).
The man himself, along with the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF), however disagree with those figures.
Their official line is that he finished his career with 95 international goals from 113 games and a monstrous 1283 career goals. Putting him well ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo.
The vast discrepancy in figures stems from friendly games that didn’t count on official records while some players counted goals with reserve sides.
The figure of 1283 goals is said to include some 526 goals the Brazilian superstar scored in unofficial friendlies, tour games and games when he was an army conscript.
Statistician Emilio Castano documented every game Pele played in, 1363 in total, and every goal he scored. His final tally comes out at 1282 and does include games against lower-graded state sides, one in which Pele found the back of the net on 8 occasions.
While the final figure of the Brazilian’s scoring prowess may never be pinpointed to one number, he’ll forever live on as one of the greatest players to ever play the sport. That fact doesn’t change if he scored 757 or 1283 goals.