How many goals does Cristiano Ronaldo need to be the all-time international top scorer?

The Portugal great is second on the illustrious list, but how much more does the Juventus star have to do to make history once again?

10:51am on Thursday 12th November 2020
Robin Bairner

Cristiano Ronaldo’s remarkable career could soon be marked by another milestone. The Portugal superstar is closing in on becoming the most prolific scorer in international football history.

Having turned out of his country 168 times, he became just the second player in history to reach the mark of 100 international goals against Sweden in September. Indeed, in that match he also notched number 101. Now, he is targeting top spot in this list.

Ronaldo lies only seven strikes short of Iran legend Ali Daei, who scored 109 times for his country in 149 outings.

International football’s record scorers are a mix of some of the most illustrious players in the history of the game along with others who have been at the lower reaches of the international game.

Illustrating this is the presence of Malaysia’s Mokhtar Dahari, Kuwait’s Bashar Abdullah and India’s Sunil Chhetri among the Top 10. Indeed, seven players from Asians nations are part of this elite crowd.

More familiar names, however, such as Hungary great Ferenc Puskas and Pele also make the list. Both had better goals-per-match ratios that Ronaldo and had long, successful international careers but played in an era in which the volume of matches was lower.

Daei aside, no-one can come close to Ronaldo’s scoring record for his country.

Dahari comes third on the list with 86 goals – a full 15 behind the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.

Incidentally, Argentina’s Lionel Messi, Ronaldo’s great rival, currently stands on 71 international goals, just one short of making the Top 10.

Top 10 international scorers of all time

International football’s leading scorers

1Ali DaeiIran149109
2Cristiano RonaldoPortugal168103
3Mokhtar DahariMalaysia13186
4Ferenc PuscasHungary8584
5Godfrey ChitaluZambia11179
6Hussein SaeedIraq13778
=8Kunishige KamamotoJapan7675
=8Bashar AbdullahKuwait13475
=10Sunil ChhetriIndia11572
=10Majed AbdullahKuwait11772

Cristiano Ronaldo international goals

It took Ronaldo eight caps to score for his country, grabbing his debut goal in the 2-1 2004 European Championship loss against Greece. It proved to be one of the rare occasions in which he would find the net but Portugal fell to defeat.

Goals arrived at a steady pace for nearly a decade, yet when he won his 100th cap, he had just 37 international strikes. In the 67 occasions he has played since then, he has been virtually unstoppable, netting for his nation on 64 times – an incredible improvement in terms of his strike rate and testimony to the remarkably longevity he has managed to cultivate during his career.

35 yrs - F (CL) - Juventus
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Played matches
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He also has nine international hat-tricks to his credit. All of these have come after his centenary cap, with the first arriving against Northern Ireland in Belfast during a 2014 World Cup qualifier. Undoubtedly the most notable of these trebles, however, arrived in a 3-3 draw against Spain during the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia.

In 2020, the international calendar has been decimated due to the Covid-19 crisis. Ronaldo’s first two goals were those historic strikes against Sweden and he has since added another against Andorra in a friendly to his tally.

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