Paris Saint-Germain football player Lionel Messi has scored the most goals in a calendar year. Messi’s 91 goals for his former club FC Barcelona and his country Argentina in 2012, are recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the most number of goals netted by a footballer in a year in football history.
Playing just 69 matches for his club and country that entire year, Lionel Messi exploded with 79 goals for the Blaugranas and 12 goals for La Albiceleste as he overcame German football legend Gerd Muller‘s record of 85 goals in a single year.
According to unofficial records, however, it is Zambia’s Godfrey Chitalu who has scored the most goals in one calendar year. The striker had tallied an unbelievable 116 goals in the year 1972 when the football season (both club and international) lasted 309 days. However, FIFA never monitored domestic competitions and his goal tally was never accounted for.
Zambian football writer Jerry Muchimba, however, took the effort to write an entire book on Chitalu’s goals, stating, “Countries with well-organised Football Associations have official records of all matches played by their national team and record holders for appearances and goals scored can be easily identified.
“Unfortunately, this is not the case in Zambia. No official record of all national team matches has ever been made public so people can only guess as to who the record holders are,” he had added.
Most goals in a calendar year: Top 10 list (updated)
Lionel Messi | 91 goals in 2012
The mantle for scoring the most goals scored in a single year is with former Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi. The left-footed wide forward had ended the 2012-13 season with a whopping 79 goals at the club level. Surprisingly, Barcelona couldn’t win either the La Liga title or the UEFA Champions League and had to settle with Copa del Rey and Supercopa Espana. Messi had scored 59 goals in La Liga, 13 goals in the UEFA Champions League competition and seven in other domestic cups. The 2012-13 season saw Lionel Messi (91) outscoring entire clubs like Manchester United (85), PSG (86), Chelsea (87) and Dortmund (88).
Gerd Muller | 85 goals in 1972
Germany and Bayern Munich legend Gerd Muller held the record for most goals scored in a single calendar year for 40 long years since 1972 before Messi broke it in 2012. The prolific German striker had managed to tally 85 goals in just 60 appearances, amongst which 42 goals came in 65 Bundesliga matches. Bayern Munich had clinched the title in the 1971/72 season, thanks to Muller’s unparalleled form.
Pele | 75 goals in 1958
One of the greatest players to ever grace the game of football, Pele was one of the first strikers to exhibit such goal-scoring abilities at the club and international levels. What’s even more awe-inspiring is the fact that he achieved this feat at only 17 years old. Pele won the 1958 FIFA World Cup as the youngest-ever player and ended up scoring six goals. He followed that up with 69 goals for his club Santos, thus becoming one of the first players with the most goals scored in a calendar year for club and country. He followed that up with 72 goals in 1965, thus featuring on the list twice.
Romario | 72 goals in 2000
Yet another Brazilian, who had mesmerized one and all with his silky dribbling abilities and prolific goalscoring was Romario. His best year was in 2000 when he netted 72 goals in a year for Brazil and his club Vasco da Gama. Ronaldinho’s idol and Brazil’s fourth-highest goalscorer, Romario sits just after Pele, Neymar Jr and Ronaldo with his tally of 780 goals in 1000 games.
Most goals in a calendar year: 21st-century scorers
Cristiano Ronaldo | 69 goals in 2013
If Lionel Messi has set unrealistic records in the footballing world, his nemesis Cristiano Ronaldo has shown unparalleled consistency with his goals. Arguably the greatest goalscorer in the history of football, Ronaldo had raised his game in the 2013-14 season scoring 69 goals in total. Having hit the milestone of 60 goals in the previous two seasons, Ronaldo was in the form of life in 2013. Cristiano Ronaldo had scored a whopping three hat-tricks in a single Champions League season while playing for Real Madrid.
Which player has scored the most goals in a calendar year for a club?
Lionel Messi has scored the most goals in a calendar year for a club as he netted 79 goals for FC Barcelona in the 2012-13 season.
What is the most goals in a calendar year by Ronaldo?
The most goals in a calendar year by Cristiano Ronaldo is 69 goals, which he achieved in the 2013-14 season in Real Madrid.
What is the most goals in a calendar year by Messi?
The most goals in a calendar year by Messi is 91, which he scored in 2012 for Barcelona and Argentina.