Cristiano Ronaldo: Most goals in men’s internationals
When it comes to the man known around the world as “CR7”, the numbers speak for themselves. He has played more than 1,000 professional football matches and scored more than 800 goals. He guided Portugal to their first major international trophy, lifted the UEFA Champions League trophy five times and is a five-time winner of the Ballon d’Or.
He has scored 115 international goals, more than any other male player.
Which begs the question: is Cristiano Ronaldo the greatest footballer of all time?
The beginning of the legend...
Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro was born on 5 February 1985 in Madeira, a Portuguese archipelago in the North Atlantic Ocean.
He was the youngest of four children, the son of a cook and a gardener.
His father was kitman at local side Andorinha; when Ronaldo started training with the youth team, his speed and diminutive stature earned him the nickname Abelhinha (“Little Bee”).
He moved to Nacional and was soon scouted by Sporting Lisbon.
At the age of 12, Ronaldo had to leave Madeira for the Portuguese mainland.
At Sporting, Ronaldo impressed his coaches not only with his natural talent, but also his work-ethic and determination to succeed.
He made his professional debut in 2002, at the age of 17, and word of his ability began to spread around European clubs.
In August 2003, Ronaldo put on a dazzling display in a pre-season friendly against Manchester United, and the English club immediately signed the young winger with the lightning-fast feet for £12.24 million.
“Thank you to the Guinness World Records. Always good to be recognized as a world record breaker. Let’s keep trying to set the numbers even higher!”
– Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo’s remorselessness in front of goal saw him become Real Madrid’s highest-ever scorer, racking up an incredible 450 goals in just 438 appearances.
He won two La Liga titles, two Copas del Rey and three Club World Cups.
In the UEFA Champions League, Ronaldo continued to set the standard, adding four more titles to his collection and scoring the most goals in a Champions League season in 2013/14, when he hit the net 17 times in just 11 matches.
To date, he remains the only player to have scored in three finals in the competition.
Following his departure from Madrid in 2018, Ronaldo spent three years in Italy playing for Turin giants Juventus, where he reached a century of goals and claimed the Serie A league title two seasons in a row.
In 2021, Ronaldo made an emotional return to Old Trafford, where he finished the season as top scorer and extended his Champions League records for most goals (140) and most appearances (183).
|Type of Goal
|Direct free kicks
Ronaldo made his debut for Portugal in a friendly against Kazakhstan on 20 August 2003, and the following year he scored his first international goal, against Greece during a group-stage match at UEFA EURO 2004.
Despite making an impact on the competition, Ronaldo’s tournament ended in tears as Portugal lost out in the final – once more to Greece, the hosts and surprise winners.
Few could have predicted at that moment that Ronaldo would go on to become to the first player to play in five EURO finals, and grab the tournament records for both appearances (25) and goals (14).
At EURO 2016, Ronaldo led his team on a battling run through the tournament to the final.
In the showpiece match against France, Ronaldo was left in tears once again, as an early injury forced him from the field – but Portugal held on to win 1–0, allowing their talisman to lift the trophy.
It was his country’s first major international title.
Success in the FIFA World Cup was harder to come by, although in 2018 Ronaldo equalled the record for most World Cup tournaments to score in – four, previously achieved by West Germany’s Uwe Seller, the Brazilian legend Pelé and Seller’s compatriot Miroslav Klose.
As Ronaldo continued to find the net, one further landmark record came steadily closer in view: the most goals in men’s internationals.
It had previously been held by Iran’s Ali Daei, who struck 109 times between 1993 and 2006.
Ronaldo equalled Daei’s mark at the delayed UEFA EURO 2020 tournament, where he scored five times.
On 1 Sep 2021, during a World Cup qualifying game against the Republic of Ireland at the Estádio Algarve, Ronaldo scored two late headers to claim the record for his own. By the end of the qualification process, he had increased his tally to 115.
As of the same date, he had made 186 international appearances, placing him third on the all-time list, just nine behind Malaysia’s Soh Chin Ann.
Ronaldo may now be in his late ‘30s, but few would bet against him going to break even more records.
It is clear that, whenever he does decide to hang up his boots, CR7 will leave a legacy behind that will take some matching.
“When you play with Ronaldo on your team, you are already 1-0 up.”
– Zinedine Zidane
|Number of goals
|Estonia, Faroe Islands, Netherlands
He holds the record for most followers for an athlete on Twitter, as well as most followers on Instagram for an athlete.
In 2003, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said of Ronaldo: "He is one of the most exciting young players I’d ever seen".
Today, he’s the top-scorer player in the world, a pluri-record holder and one of the most famous names ever in the football industry.
The crowds chant his name and his kick strikes true to score goal after goal, but that may not be enough for Cristiano Ronaldo, who has an ambitious heart and the skills and tenacity to reach unimaginable heights.
"Let’s keep trying to set the numbers even higher!" the football champion writes on his social media, and we certainly can't wait to see.