Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Pele: Who has scored the most goals in football history?

  • Kobe Tong

Cristiano Ronaldo can’t go a single game for Portugal without making history.

The Juventus star merely emerged from the bench during his country’s 7-0 obliteration of Andorra this week, but that proved ample time for him to make an impact on the international stage.

That’s because the 35-year-old moved to within eight strikes of surpassing Ali Daei as the record goalscorer in international history with a confidently-dispatched header at the back post.

Ronaldo reaches 102 Portugal goals

Overall, Ronaldo boasts 102 strikes in the famous red and green jersey of Portugal and there’s more than enough time for the Real Madrid legend to creep further into record-breaking territory.

However, while the champagne is still on ice in terms of overtaking Daei, Ronaldo just happens to be closing in on the greatest statistic available to any striker in the beautiful game.

It doesn’t take a football journalist to identify that a forward’s primary objective is to score goals and therefore, becoming the record goalscorer in the sport’s history would be the ultimate achievement.


Ronaldo draws level with Puskas

Well, it just happens that Ronaldo took a massive step towards that most remarkable of feats with his latest strike for Portugal, moving to joint-fourth in the standings.

If you combine Ronaldo’s 102 finishes on the international stage with Portugal to his club career tally of 644 goals with Sporting Lisbon, Manchester United, Real and Juve, you arrive at a total of 746.

That just happens to draw Ronaldo level with Ferenc Puskas, who also happens to be one of the greatest footballers in history and a prolific goalscorer at the Bernabeu just like CR7.


Greatest goalscorers of all time

Now, all eyes are on Ronaldo steering clear of his fellow Real icon and becoming the outright number one, which he can achieve by usurping Pele, Romario and Josef Bican in that order.

In terms of the older players, it’s tough to feel 100% certain about their tally of official goals, but going on the figures provided by talkSPORT, here’s how the top 10 shapes up at present:

10. Tulio Maravilha (1988-2019) – 575 goals

9. Uwe Seller (1953-1978) – 575+ goals

8. Ferenc Deak (1940-1957) – 576+ goals

7. Lionel Messi (2003-present) – 711 goals

6. Gerd Muller (1962-1981) – 736 goals

=4. Cristiano Ronaldo (2001-present) – 746 goals

=4. Ferenc Puskas (1943-1966) – 746 goals

3. Pele (1957-1977) – 767 goals

2. Romario (1985-2007) – 772 goals

1. Josef Bican (1931-1956) – 805 goals

So, Ronaldo needs to score just 59 goals to level the record which, by his remarkable standards, probably correlates to around one and half seasons, assuming he doesn’t suddenly drop off. 


Can he claim the record?

Even if he never scored a single goal again, however, finishing in the top five is still an incredible achievement and one that hasn’t been lost on his Juventus teammate Gianluigi Buffon.

The legendary goalkeeper tweeted: “Grande CR7issimo!!! Congrats for this great achievement my friend, 746 goals are an huuuge amount! You reached Puskas, now you have to get Pelé!”

However, perhaps the bigger question is how Ronaldo can move past the record by the time he retires because Messi happens to have a two-year advantage on him when it comes to age. 


It could, after all, prove the deciding metric by which we come to view the Ronaldo vs Messi debate for years to come and it’s going to be thrilling to watch.

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