Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick in Portugal’s 5-1 demolition of the Faroe Islands in Thursday’s World Cup qualifier moved the Real Madrid superstar on to 78 international goals.
It means he now stands joint-fourth on the all-time list – his third of the evening at Boavista’s Estadio do Bessa lifting him above Brazil’s all-time great Pele, who finished his career as a three-time World Cup winner with 77 goals.
Ronaldo is now on to 14 goals for the current qualifying campaign, equalling Predrag Mijatovic’s European record on the road to the 1998 World Cup.
The 32-year-old sits level with Iraq’s Hussein Saeed on the all-time list and has another Madrid icon in his sights.
Here, Omnisport presents the most prolific international goal-getters of all time, including the three men Ronaldo must still overhaul.
— UEFA EURO (@UEFAEURO) August 31, 2017
ALI DAEI – IRAN (109 goals)
Ronaldo still has some way to go if he wishes to overhaul Iran hero Daei, who played 149 times for his country in an international career spanning 23 years. Between 1993 and 2006, the one-time Hertha Berlin and Bayern Munich striker plundered an astonishing 109 goals for his country. He was on target in a 3-1 Asian Cup qualifying defeat against Kuwait in December 2003 to move to the top of this list but duly kept going, storming into three figures with a four-goal haul in a 7-0 thumping of Laos during a World Cup qualifier the following November. Daei turned his hand to coaching Iran, unsuccessfully, between 2008 and 2009, and was appointed as the boss of former club Saipa last month.
FERENC PUSKAS – HUNGARY (84 goals)
An undisputed Real Madrid great of the club’s first golden era, Puskas is the only remaining European player ahead of Ronaldo, after the 32-year-old pulled level with the Hungarian’s countryman, ex-Barcelona forward Sandor Kocsis, at the weekend. Before defecting from Communist Hungary and relaunching their careers in western Europe, they helped to established the “Magical Magyars” as one of the most feared and revered international teams of all-time – almost certainly the finest never to lift the World Cup, and one that dazzled a stunned Wembley in 1953 by thumping England 6-3. Puskas scored twice in that game and four times at the 1954 World Cup, where Hungary’s controversial loss to West Germany in the final was their only defeat in a six-year period spanning 50 games.
KUNISHIGE KAMAMOTO – JAPAN (80 goals)
Widely considered the finest Japanese player ever, Kamamoto raced to his 80-goal tally in quick time, taking only 84 internationals to run up his total. A one-club man who spent his career with Yanmar Diesel, the prolific striker’s highlight with the Samurai Blue came in 1968 when he helped them towards the Olympic bronze medal – netting a hat-trick against Nigeria – although he never graced a World Cup.
HUSSEIN SAEED – IRAQ (78 goals)
A second long-serving Middle Eastern goal-getter, Hussein represented Iraq between 1976 and 1990, notching 78 strikes in 137 appearances. Like Kamamoto, stability at club level appears to have laid a solid foundation, as he remained at Al-Talaba throughout his playing days. With Iraq, Hussein won the Gulf Cup of Nations in 1979 and 1982 and an Asian Games gold medal in 1982.
PELE – BRAZIL (77 goals)
The well of superlatives to describe Edson Arantes do Nascimento has long been exhausted but it is indisputable that none of the other goal hauls on this list have yielded such handsome returns. Pele’s contribution came in a career encompassing four World Cups, three of which he won, scoring in two finals. His semi-final hat-trick and final brace in 1958 as a teen sensation serve as the beginning of a global footballing story more celebrated than any other, while his iconic header against Italy in the 1970 final set in motion Brazil’s finest hour. His is quite the name for Ronaldo to now have in his rearview mirror.
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