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From Pele to Cristiano, Most international Goal Scorer in football
- Updated: June 20, 2023
Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, along with India’s Sunil Chhetri, are the top three active international goal scorers in men’s football.
In an era of club football’s overwhelming popularity, scoring goals while donning the national jersey is still an experience every footballer yearns for.
Then there are a few players who have experienced the feeling over and over again, etching their names in the history books.
Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, with 122 goals in 198 matches and counting, has scored the most goals in international football in the men’s game.
Cristiano Ronaldo has been netting goals regularly since making his debut for the Portuguese national side in 2003 and has 10 hat-tricks to his name – also the most in international football.
Any mention of Cristiano Ronaldo, however, feels incomplete without drawing comparisons to fellow modern-day icon Lionel Messi. As per norm, the Argentinian magician also appears on the top 10 of this illustrious list.
Lionel Messi (103 goals) is third in the all-time top international goal scorers’ list and the second-most prolific active goal scorer (currently playing) after Cristiano Ronaldo.
Interestingly, Indian football talisman Sunil Chhetri is also in the mix, making him fifth and third in the all-time and active scorers’ lists, respectively.
Chhetri has played a major role in India’s footballing fortunes in the last decade, earning legendary status in the nation’s sporting history.
However, it’s not just the 21st century stars who feature in the record books.
Legends like Iran’s Ali Daei, who was the first football player to score 100 international goals, Ferenc Puskas of Hungary, who boasted an astounding 1:1 goal to match ratio and three-time World Cup winner Pele also find a place in the roll of honour.
Ali Daei, with 109 goals, is also the top international scorer among Asian players while Godfrey Chitalu of Zambia sits on top in the list of African footballers.
Cristiano Ronaldo is the most accomplished European goal scorer of all-time while Lionel Messi and Trinidad and Tobago’s Stern John (70 goals) hold the continental perches for South and North America, respectively.
Curiously, Germany’s Miroslav Klose – the player with the most goals (16) in the FIFA World Cup – doesn’t feature in the top 10 all-time international goal scorers list. Klose’s tally of 71 goals in 137 caps only puts him joint-18th.