Pele urged Neymar to “keep inspiring us” on Saturday after the Brazil forward dropped a retirement hint following his team’s shock FIFA World Cup defeat to Croatia.
Neymar signalled he could be ready to quit international football on Friday after Brazil suffered an agonising quarterfinal exit in Doha.
The 30-year-old would not confirm if he would play for the five-time champion again after a match in which he equalled Pele’s record goal-scoring haul of 77 goals for the Selecao.
“I am not closing any doors on the national team but I am also not guaranteeing 100 percent that I will return,” said Neymar, who left the field in tears following the penalty shootout loss.
Pele, 82, said in a message on Instagram that he hoped the superstar forward would carry on playing, adding that goal-scoring achievements were no match for the honour of representing Brazil.
“You know, as I do, that no number is greater than the joy of representing our country,” Pele wrote on Instagram.
“I’m 82 years old, and after all this time, I hope I’ve inspired you in some way to get this far... Your legacy is far from over. Keep inspiring us. I will continue punching the air with happiness with every goal you score, as I have done in every game I’ve seen you on the pitch.”
Pele, who was hospitalised earlier this month during treatment for colon cancer, congratulated Neymar for equalling his goal-scoring record.
“I learned that the more time passes, the more our legacy grows,” Pele wrote.
“My record was set almost 50 years ago, and no one has been able to get close to it until now. You made it, my boy. That adds to the greatness of your achievement.”