RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) -- Now, Romario only has Pele to beat.
The Vasco striker scored his 831st goal this week, matching the career total of retired all-star Zico. Only Pele, with 1,281 goals, has more.
Goal No. 831 came Wednesday on a penalty kick that gave Vasco a 1-0 victory over Sao Paulo in the opening quarterfinal match of the Rio-Sao Paulo tournament.
If Pele remains a distant target, the 36-year-old Romario shows no signs of slowing down. His 21 goals led the league last year, and he is third in the Rio-Sao Paulo tournament with 13.
"I still have the objective of reaching 1,000 goals, but overtaking Pele is a lot more difficult," Romario said in an interview on Pele's web site, www.pele.net.
The milestone revived a long-standing debate over which player was better, Zico or Romario.
Romario's supporters note that he reached the 831-goal mark in just 880 games, while it took Zico 1,176. Zico's defenders point out that the Flamengo star was essentially a playmaker, while Romario's job was always simply putting the ball in the net.
"It's not because one player has scored or will score more goals that he's better," veteran coach Mario Zagallo told the Rio daily O Globo. "Zico was a player of international renown and a great human being. He is hors concours."
Former all-star defender Nilton Santos took the other side.
"Romario is exceptional," he was quoted as saying. "When Zico played, he was my favorite. Today, however, I prefer Romario."
Brazil's coach Luiz Felipe Scolari apparently remains unswayed by the achievement. He has resisted a national campaign to bring back Romario for this summer's World Cup, leaving him off the team for a warmup game with Portugal next Wednesday.
Romario's 832nd will come very soon, of course. It will be interesting to see how close he will come to 1000 goals, and whether or not he will break that barrier. He is 36 already, but Romario still has a lot to offer.