Who is Josef Bican? The man Cristiano Ronaldo has just equalled as top goalscorer in history

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Many of you may not have heard of Josef Bican before a few weeks ago.

Only when Cristiano Ronaldo edged past Pele into second in the list of all-time goalscorers in history, did Bican start getting the attention he deserves.

With his strike against Sassuolo on Sunday night, Ronaldo scored his 759th career goal to go level with Bican’s incredible record.

But who is Josef Bican?

Born in 1913, he was a Czech striker, who also played for Austria during his career.

According to statistics, it’s estimated he scored more than 805 goals in official matches (including his youth career) and more than 1468 goals in total matches including friendlies.

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However, his official senior career goal count has been estimated at 759 which includes 730 club goals and 29 national team goals.

He’s got a quite ridiculous record of 534 goals in 291 official matches for Slavia Prague.

Something that enabled Bican to score so many goals was just incredible pace. He apparently had the ability to sprint 100 metres in 10.8 seconds which, back then, was quite ridiculous.

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Early life

Bican was born in Vienna and his father, Frantisek, fought in World War I. However, he died at the age of 30 after refusing an operation on a kidney injury which he sustained in a football match. It meant that Bican grew up in poverty and had to play football without shoes as a child.

At 12, he started playing for Hertha Vienna junior team. Hertha Vienna II. He was then spotted by Rapid Vienna at the age of 18.

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Move to Slavia Prague

In 1937, he moved to Czech side Slavia Prague. This is where Bican ran riot.

He played for the club throughout World War II when many people his age were at war. In eight seasons, he scored 328 goals, including 57 in 26 matches one particular season. Of course, it was an advantage to be playing at a time when the majority of the physically fit people were participating in the war.

He finished his career having played for Rapid Vienna, Admira Wien, Slavia Prague, Vitkovice Zelezarny, Sokol Skoda and Dynamo Prague having scored 730 goals in 459 matches in all conceptions.

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International career

In 1933 at the age of 20, Bican made his international debut or Austria. Ten years later, he represented them in the 1934 World Cup, where they reached the semi-finals. Bican scored once in the tournament. He ended his Austria career with 14 goals in 19 games.

He later applied for Czechoslovak citizenship but, due to an error in the processing, wasn’t able to play at the World Cup in 1938. In 14 matches for Czechoslovakia, he scored 12 times.

He also played once for the region of Bohemia and Moravia, where he scored a hat-trick.

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In the 1990s, Bican refused the notion that scoring goals back in his day was easier.

“When I talk to young reporters, they always say, ‘Mr Bican, scoring was easier back in your day’" he said.

"But I ask them, ‘How come? Look, are there opportunities today?’ And they tell me, ‘Of course there are, many of them’. And I say, ‘There you go. If there weren’t opportunities, it would be difficult.

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But if there are, scoring is the same as it was a hundred years ago and will be the same in a hundred years’ time, too. It will always be the same.” 

It’s about time we put a bit more respect on Bican’s name. He will soon be surpassed by the incredible Ronaldo but, for someone who has scored more goals than Pele, he deserves to be a household name in football.

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