(Reuters) - Cristiano Ronaldo hailed Pele after he surpassed the Brazilian great's goal-scoring haul in official matches by netting a hat-trick in Juventus' 3-1 Serie A win over Cagliari on Sunday.
Since soccer’s world governing body FIFA does not keep an official record of who is on top of the all-time scoring list, it is a benchmark that is hotly disputed.
Several media outlets previously hailed Ronaldo for breaking the record when he reached 760 goals as he had supposedly surpassed the record set by Austria and Czechoslovakia striker striker Josef Bican.
However, the Czech FA subsequently said in January that Bican’s total was actually 821 goals, following a review of his statistics during a career spanning from 1931 to 1955.
On Sunday, however, Ronaldo ignored Bican's revised total to claim he was now on top of the scoring pile after surpassing Pele's tally of 767.
"My everlasting and unconditional admiration for mister Edson Arantes do Nascimento (Pele), such is the respect that I have for mid-20th century football, led me to take into account his 767 score, assuming his nine goals for Sao Paulo State Team, as well as his single goal for the Brazilian Military Team, as official goals,” Ronaldo wrote on Instagram.
“Today, as I reach the 770th official goal in my professional career, my first words go straight to Pele. There’s no player in the world who hasn’t been raised listening to stories about his games, his goals and his achievements, and I’m no exception.
"And for that reason, I’m filled with joy and pride as I acknowledge the goal that puts me on top of the world’s goalscoring list, overcoming Pele’s record, something that I could never have dreamed of while growing up as a child from Madeira.”
Pele, who helped Brazil to win the World Cup in 1958, 1962 and 1970, states on his own Instagram page that he heads the all-time scoring list with 1,283 goals.
The 80-year-old former Santos striker and his compatriot Romario scored in excess of 1,000 goals during their careers, but those statistics include strikes in amateur, unofficial and friendly matches.
Nevertheless, Pele congratulated Ronaldo on Sunday.
"Life is a solo flight. Each makes his own journey. And what a beautiful journey you are having. I admire you a lot, I love watching you play and this is no secret to anyone," Pele wrote on Instagram.
"Congratulations on breaking my record of goals in official matches. My only regret is not being able to give you a hug today."
(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie, editing by Pritha Sarkar)