LONDON: Brazilian and Zambian statisticians are whining about claims that Barcelona’s Leo Messi – who reached 88 goals on Wednesday night in a Spanish cup-tie at Cordoba – has scored more goals in a calendar year than any previous player writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Record keepers at the Brazilian club Flamengo of Rio, with whom Zico made his name before leaving for Italy and then Japan, claim that the Brazilian scored 89 goals in 1979.

The assessment of Messi’s achievements, compared with those of West German Gerd Muller who scored 85 goals in 1972, is entirely unofficial and, at best, an issue for a battle between statisticians.

Hence Bruno Lucena, head of Flamengo’s research and statistics department, was quoted in the Brazilian media as saying: “We are upset. Messi still hasn’t passed the milestone.”

Lucena calculates that Zico scored 81 goals for Flamengo in 1979, plus another seven for Brazil and one in a friendly between Argentina and a Rest of the World XI.

Lance produced a list of goals scored by Zico in 1979. According to the statistics, he hit six goals in a game on two occasions, four goals in a game once and five hat-tricks.

The Zambia Football Association on Wednesday said it will present evidence to show FIFA that Kabwe Warriors striker Godfrey Chitalu scored 107 goals in 1972.

In fact, the issue has nothing to do with FIFA whatsoever.

A ZFA spokesman waid: “We have this record, which has been recorded in Zambian football, but unfortunately it has not been recorded in world football.

“Even as the world has been looking at Lionel Messi’s record, breaking Gerd Müller’s, the debate and discussion back here has been why Godfrey’s goals are not being recognised.”

The spokesperson said the Zambia FA has commissioned an independent team to “go back into the archives and record minute-by-minute each of those goals.”

Chitalu, played for Zambia’s national team, before becoming a national coach. He died in 1993 when a plane carrying the team crashed near Gabon.