The Juventus forward netted four goals as Portugal beat Lithuania to take his overall tally to 25 in European qualifying – two more than the previous record set by former Republic of Ireland striker Keane. Before the match, Keane asked Ronaldo to “leave this one” after pointing out the five-time Ballon d’Or winner was two goals away from his record. “I think you have enough records, Cristiano!” Keane joked on Instagram. But after scoring against his 150th different team for club and country, there was no stopping Ronaldo netting his eighth international hat-trick and stealing the limelight. Ronaldo has now scored 93 international goals, 16 behind Iran legend Ali Daei’s world record in men’s football and is also the first European to score 90 goals for his country.
The 34-year-old is the leading scorer in European Championships. He has netted 34 goals in total – including nine in final tournaments, which is also a joint-record with Frenchman Michel Platini. Those goals came in four successive tournaments – 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 – with one in the semi-final victory over Wales during Portugal’s title-winning campaign three years ago. No other European has scored more goals in competitive international fixtures, with Ronaldo netting 72, including the first goal and a hat-trick in the Nations League Finals when he put three past Switzerland in the last four in June. And his tally of 30 goals in European World Cup qualifying is another record.
Ronaldo has netted against an impressive 150 different teams while playing for clubs and country. Just under a third of those have been against other nations (40), while just 17 have been in friendly matches. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has a knack for leaving it late too, with 26 of his 93 international goals coming in the last 15 minutes. He has scored more goals with his head (25) than with his left foot (22) and in the 61 games he has scored in, Portugal have gone on to lose just five of them, winning 51. Interestingly – outside of penalty shootouts – Ronaldo has never scored against European giants France, Germany, Italy or England. He has scored five goals against Andorra, Armenia, Latvia and Sweden – more than any other nation. Iran’s Daei, who played between 1995 and 2007, is the only player in men’s football to have outscored Cristiano Ronaldo on the international stage.
His tally of 109 goals in all matches, including friendlies, is 16 more than Ronaldo’s 93 in 160 appearances. A former captain of Iran, Daei played as a striker for German clubs Bayern Munich and Hertha BSC, before moving to the United Arab Emirates. In 1996, Daei scored 20 goals in 18 international appearances and he also netted double figures in 2000, 2001 and 2004. By the end of the 1996 Asian Cup, he had scored 29 goals in 38 appearances for Iran and he was top of the scoring charts at the end of the 1998 World Cup qualifying campaign. In November 2004, he scored four goals against Laos in a World Cup qualifier and became the first male player to score a century of goals in international competition.
|All-time top scorers in men’s international football|
|Player (country)||Goals scored|
|Ali Daei (Iran)||109|
|Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)||93|
|Ferenc Puskas (Hungary)||83|
|Kunishige Kamamoto (Japan)||80|
|Godfrey Chitalu (Zambia)||79|
Ronaldo doesn’t look like slowing down any time soon and last year he said he was able to play for another seven years. “Right now I have a biological age of 23. I’ve still got a long time left, I can keep playing until I’m 41,” he said in May. If that is the case, Cristiano Ronaldo could be competing in three more Nations Leagues, two European Championships and two World Cups – not to mention qualifying matches around those tournaments and friendlies in between. He already has four European qualifying matches lined up in October and November. At a goalscoring rate of more than one goal in every two games, Ronaldo may only need 32 matches to break Daei’s all-time record.