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Juninho “Delighted” to Lose Scoring Record to Philippe Coutinho

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The former Middlesbrough man is happy to abdicate in favour of a player he sees as Brazil’s second best.

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

With three goals in his last three games, Philippe Coutinho has gone from one behind to level and then on to holding the record for most goals scored by a Brazilian international playing in the Premier League, taking that honour away from former Middlesbrough star Juninho.

Rather than be disappointed, though, the man who currently runs Brazil's Ituano FC says he was delighted to pass the honour on to a worthy new holder of the record and a player he sees as Brazil's second best in 2017, behind only Barcelona star Neymar.

"I am delighted that he takes my record," said Juninho. "I can't think of anyone better—the record couldn't be in better hands. Coutinho can be considered, after Neymar, the best player in Brazil. He's different class and he deserves everything he is achieving because he has worked very hard for it."

It's an honour Coutinho now holds because Diego Costa, who was born in Brazil and spent his first 18 years in the country, chose to represent Spain at the international level after being frozen out of the Brazilian national team by Luiz Felipe Scolari, who favoured Fred as his top striker.

That led to a falling-out that pushed Costa away from Brazil, though for many, that he was born in Brazil and grew up there as a footballer will trump his later decision to represent Spain. Still, as far as the record books go, it's representation that matters, and that means Coutinho.

Now, the question is what comes next, and if he listens to Juninho, he might just choose to stick around in England for the long-haul, something the ex-Middlesbrough man didn't do—he was courted by Roy Evans' Liverpool but instead left England for Athletico Madrid—and now regrets.

"If I could go back to the past, I would never leave English football when I did," he added. "If you have an intelligence to your game then you can find the space on the pitch and because the game in England is so fast that means a lot of the time it is also very open.

One of Coutinho's biggest qualities is that ability to find the space. People think that type of player will have more difficulties adapting to English football but in England I found a lot more space than I did in Spain. The intensity is there but if you get past the first wave of pressure then the pitch opens up."