Rio De Janeiro - Former Brazil striker Romario took his career tally, according to his own records, to 998 goals on Saturday by scoring his third hat-trick of the year.
Romario's goals came in a 20-minute spell in the second half as he helped Vasco da Gama beat modest opponents Boavista 6-2 in the Carioca (Rio de Janeiro state) championship.
The irrepressible 41-year-old former Barcelona and PSV Eindhoven player scored with a header, a penalty and a left-foot shot to drag Vasco from 2-1 down to 4-2 ahead.
"A few years ago, everybody thought my career was finished," Brazil's 1994 World Cup winner told reporters, "but there's the reply. I'm going to be the second to reach this milestone."
He was referring to the 1 000-goal target that Brazilian Pele passed in 1969.
Romario's tally includes goals scored in junior and youth team matches, plus friendlies. However, Pele's total also included numerous goals which would not nowadays be classed as official.
Vasco's next match is a Copa Brasil tie away to Brasiliense on Wednesday.
They then face arch-rivals Flamengo - another of Romario's former clubs - at the Maracana stadium, his favourite stage. - Reuters