Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portuguese striker recently has been in the news for setting a new world record of most international goals. He scored 2 goals against the Republic of Ireland in a World Cup qualification match to achieve this feat. Now, those people who are not very keen followers of the game will think that the previous record-holder must have been someone in the lights of Pele, Diego Maradona, or Lionel Messi. But that is not the case. The international goal-scoring list is a mixed bag of known and unknown players. That is why this article lists as well as provides an insight into the top 10 all-time leading goal scorers in international football.
10- Sandor Kocsis, Hungary (75 goals in 68 caps, 1948-56)
Kocsis was a star player for Hungary. In his short-lived international career, he scored 7 hattricks and won a Golden boot at the 1956 World Cup held in Switzerland. He was a hard worker off the ball and a devastating header too. His international career came to an abrupt stop in 1956 as he was forced to flee from his homeland where the Soviets were crushing the Hungarian Uprising.
9- Ali Mabkhout, UAE* (76 goals in 92 caps, 2009- present)
Mabkhout has been reeling in the leading tally of the international goal scorers in recent. He has spent his entire club career at Al Jazira. Where partnering up with Ricardo Oliveira, the former AC Milan striker, he has scored 165 goals in 227 matches. Also, he has learned a lot from his, as since 2019, he has scored 32 goals in just 23 caps. With still at least five years under his belt, the 30-year-old has all the chances in the world to make it to the top of this listing.
8- Pele, Brazil (77 goals in 92 caps, 1951-71)
Acknowledged as the best player ever, Pele is considered to be the most energetic player on the field. He is the only second player (after Arthur Freidenreich) to have scored 1000 goals in his career. He won three out of four World Cups he participated in. He was also South America’s leading Goalscorer until recently Lionel Messi climbed past him.
7- Hussain Saeed, Iraq (78 goals in 137 appearances, 1977-90)
It’s of rare knowledge that Iraq had a golden period in football. During the 1980s, they won the Asian Games (1982), Pan Arab Games (1995), Arab Gulf Cup (1984 and 88), etc. They also managed to qualify for the 1986 Mexico. It was this very decade that saw the rise of Hussain Saeed. He was at his peak by 1984, a year in which he scored 13 goals in 18 games.
6- Lionel Messi, Argentina* (79 goals in 153 appearances, 2005-present)
The reputation of Lionel Messi precedes his name. He is a prolific game maker and goal scorer, which has gained him several records and accolades over the years. At the moment he has the most goals in La Liga (474), most Hattricks in La Liga (36), and UEFA Champions League (8)*, along with most assists in La Liga (192) and Copa America (17). He has scored over 750 goals for club and country combined. Messi is the current highest goal scorer in South America and holds the record for most goals by a player for a single club. Apart from this, he has also won a record number of Ballon d’Or awards (6)*. He currently plays for PSG, in league 1.
5- Godfrey Chitalu, Zambia (79 goals in 111 caps, 1968-80)
With his great footballing prowess, Chitalu is a household name in Zambia. He’s the highest-scoring African in international football and allegedly holds the record for most goals in a calendar year, however, the record was never recognized by FIFA. According to Zambia FA, he scored 116 goals in 1972.
4- Ferenc Puskas, Hungary (84 goals in 85 appearances, 1945-56)
The English footballer Vivial Woodward’s record run of 40 years as the record international goal scorer with 73 goals before World War-I, was halted in the 1950s. it was Hungary’s Ferenc Puskas, who playing from his deep position scored many goals for his country. The whole world is aware of the fact that Puskas meant goals, hence FIFA has named their annual best goal award after the Hungarian’s name.
3- Mokhtar Dahari, Malaysia (89 goals in 142 appearances, 1972-85)
After Puskas’s domination in the 50s to early 80s, his title as the record scorer on the international stage was snatched by an unlikely player from an unfavourable country of Malaysia. Dahari was both muscular and nimble on his feet. He made the world stop for him when he scored against Arsenal in a friendly. Offers from Madrid and England started coming in, but he stayed loyal to his Selangor FC with which he won 10 Malaysian Cups.
2- Ali Daei, Iran (109 goals in 149 appearances, 1993-2006)
Nicked name as ‘Mr. The goal,’ Daei was not a technically sound player. However, he was always a decent player in the air and a penalty box predator. When playing for Bayern Munich, he became the first Asian to play in the UEFA Champions League. He also helped his team qualify for the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France. Daei held the title for highest international goal scorer for 18 years, before Ronaldo overtook him.
1- Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal (111 goals in 180 appearances, 2003- present)
There is no bigger name in the footballing world than Cristiano Ronaldo. It’s a rarity to find such a player who can equally keep up the ante in both club and international football. The Portuguese forward has proved time and time again why he is one of the best in the world. Playing at the club level, Ronaldo has won 5 Ballon d’Or, 4 golden shoes, 32 major trophies, 7 domestic league titles, 5 Champions leagues. Apart from that, he has been the highest goal scorer in European championships Finals (14), and UEFA Champions League (134). Currently, Ronaldo is playing at his boyhood club Manchester United.