Lionel Messi, arguably the greatest footballer of our generation, has just passed another landmark in what is proving to be one of the most illustrious footballing careers ever. He scored his 644th goal for his club, Barcelona, surpassing the exceptional Pele’s club scoring record.
The goal came in Barcelona’s La Liga fixture against Real Valladolid. It was the third goal in a match that Barca won by 3-0.
Not only did the 33-year-old Argentinian score himself, but he also created the opportunity for the first goal scored by teammate Clement Lengket and started the move that led to the second goal netted by Martin Braithwait. As if that was not enough, he also hit the post in injury time.
Passing Pele’s record of goals scored for one club is a magnificent achievement. It reinforces his position as a candidate for the world’s best-ever footballer, just days after Messi had named fellow countryman, Diego Maradona, who sadly passed away at the age of 60 two weeks ago, as the greatest ever player.
If you ask people to name the world’s top goal scorers, most would recant the names of Pele, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Lionel Messi. In fact, the most prolific goal scorer of all time is an Austrian-Czech – Josef Bican, who strutted his stuff between 1931 and 1955. Messi lies 6th in the list, but at 33, he still has time to climb higher.
But for the goal-scoring machine that Messi is, he still has his list of goalkeepers who gave him a hard time. Number five on his list is Edwin Van der Sar, a keeper who also figured number seven on Sportingbet’s list of best-ever Premier League goalkeepers and has kept 133 clean goal sheets in 308 appearances.
Van der Sar is a Dutchman. He spent nine years as a goalkeeper for Ajax, two years at Juventus, and six years at Manchester United, before retiring in July 2011. Messi and Van der Sar went head-to-head several times in Cup matches between Barcelona and Manchester United. With an impressive array of saves, the Dutchman managed to keep the Argentinian’s goal tally down to one.
However, Messi’s biggest goalkeeping nemesis was Petr Cech, who has kept 202 clean sheets in 434 appearances and is also top of Sportingbet’s list.
Petr Cech is a Czech, no pun intended. He was Chelsea’s goalkeeper for 11 years, spending the last four years of his career at Arsenal where he retired in July 2019.
As well as being a great goalkeeper, he is famous for the horror injury he suffered when he fractured his skull in a match against Reading in 2006. He was rushed to the hospital for an emergency operation, after which he always wore his famous head guard when playing.
Messi and Cech went head-to-head on eight occasions when Barcelona played Chelsea and Arsenal in various Cup competitions. Cech kept the Argentinian at bay on seven of those occasions, but Messi, who some compare to a pure artist for his footballing abilities, finally got his revenge, when he put two superb goals past him in 2016 when Barcelona knocked Arsenal out of the Champions League.