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Who has scored the most goals in football – Know the record holders

Manchester and Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo has the most goals in football history as per FIFA. The forward sits at the top of the list with 818 career goals scored across club and country. Cristiano Ronaldo also has the most international goals in football.

However, given the old age of football as a sport, which has seen numerous highest goalscorers across continents in various eras of history, it has been challenging to keep track of every individual’s actual numbers of goals. This makes a list for players with the most goals in football controversial.

According to the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS), the following list is the most authentic.

Most Goals in Football: All-time leading goalscorer

RankingsPlayerPlaying PeriodNumber of Goals
1Cristiano Ronaldo 2002 – Present818
2Lionel Messi2004 – Present785
4Romario1985 – 2007753
5Ferenc Puskas1943 – 1966729
6Josef Bican1931 – 1955720
7Jimmy Jones1947 – 1964647
8Gerd Muller1964 – 1981634
9Eusebio1958 – 1981634
10Joe Bambrick1926 – 1943616

Cristiano Ronaldo | 818 Goals

The Manchester United player crossed the 800-goal mark on December 3, when he scored a brace against Arsenal FC to help the Red Devils win 3-2 at the Old Trafford. Football’s leading goalscorer, Cristiano Ronaldo, has scored 450 goals for Real Madrid and 101 goals for Juventus before returning to Premier League to his boyhood club. Ronaldo has 115 goals for his national team, and with the longevity in his game, he could very well cross the 850-goal mark.

Pele | 765 goals  

One of the greatest players ever to grace the sport of football, Pele was one of the earliest superstars in world football with his displays in Brazi’s iconic yellow shirt. His heroics have taken Brazil to World Cup glory thrice (1970, 1962, 1958). Quite interestingly, Pele’s Instagram bio reads, “Leading Goal Scorer of All Time (1,283)”, but those goals take into account his goals in friendlies as well. As per official records, Pele scored 765 goals in official matches in his career.

Lionel Messi | 785 goals

Former Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi sits third on the list and given his age, he is more than likely to overtake Pele and challenge his archrival Cristiano Ronaldo for the top position. The southpaw has been one of the most prolific goalscorers of the 21st century, with many regarding him to be the best there has ever been to grace the sport. So far, what has limited the Argentine international is his number of international goals. While Lionel Messi has a whopping 678 goals at the club level, he has managed just 80 goals for his country. 

Josef Bican | 720 goals

Perhaps the most controversial name on this list of most goals in football, the Czech international has the history and statistics committee on their toes with his goal scoring stats. While FIFA has recognized the legendary Josef Bican as the highest goalscorer in football history with 805 goals to his name, the likes of CNN, BBC and others acknowledge that the above tally had taken into account numerous unofficial matches and friendlies. Interestingly, earlier last year, the Czech FA counted Josef Bican’s total to be at 821, which makes him the highest goalscorer of all. However, the official statistics committee estimate the striker’s tally at 759 – 730 club goals and 29 international. 

Gerd Muller | 634 goals

Bayern Munich’s record goalscorer, Gerd Muller was one of the most decorated footballers of the previous generation. German fans fondly remember his winning goal in the 1974 World Cup final against the Netherlands. With a whopping 634 goals to his name, Gerd Muller is also a Ballon d’Or winner averaging 0.92 goal per game. Considered one of the game’s best finishers, Muller also boasts of a record 566 Bundesliga goals in 607 competitive appearances for a single club – Bayern Munich. 

Most Goals in Football in 2021

RankingsPlayer (Nationality)ClubNumber of Goals
1Robert Lewandowski (Poland)Bayern Munich69
2Kylian Mbappe (France)Paris-Saint German51
3Erling Haaland (Norway)Borussia Dortmund49
4Karim Benzema (France)Real Madrid47
5Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)Manchester United46
6Lionel Messi (Argentina)Paris-Saint German43
7Dusan Vlahovic (Serbia)Fiorentina41
8Arthur Cabal (Brazil)FC Basel39
9Mohamed Salah (Egypt)Liverpool39
10Memphis Depay (Netherlands)AS Lyon/ FC Barcelona39

Robert Lewandowski | 69 Goals

Yet another Bayern Munich top scorer and undoubtedly a legend in the making, Polish striker Robert Lewandowski had managed to overtake Gerd Muller’s 40-year-old record of scoring the most Bundesliga goals in a single season last year. Lewandowski ended with the most goals in a calendar year last season, across all competitions for his club and country. The forward had joined Bayern Munich in 2014 after scoring 103 goals for Borussia Dortmund and has since scored over 300 goals for the Bavarians over the years.

Kylian Mbappe | 51 Goals

Outscoring Neymar is not everyone’s cup of tea unless you are French wonder-kid Kylian Mbappe. The lanky winger is adored by all for his silky skills and insane speed both on and off the ball, but what sets him up as the rightful candidate to replace the Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo one day is his goalscoring skills. The winger is pretty much the complete striker in world football right now with equal efficiency in all positions of the attacking third – left-wing, right-wing, the number 10 role, and the centre forward.

Erling Haaland | 49 Goals   

If there is any sign that the future generation has arrived, it is the position of Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland sitting above Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi on this list. Like Mbappe, Haaland has fast become one of the most desired strikers in world football. The Norwegian international has the skill, pace and boasts of a physicality very few possess in world football. Having a sledgehammer of a left foot also adds to his arsenal of goalscoring prowess.

A literature student and ardent sports lover, who was blown away by the fact that SEO helps you achieve perfection in art. Obsessed with SEO, my write-ups are more analytical yet elementary.


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