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Cristiano Ronaldo is now the highest scorer of all time, say many reports, after the 760th goal of his career, scored in Juventus’ 2-0 Italian Super Cup win over Napoli – but is it true?
Ronaldo has scored five goals for Sporting Lisbon, 118 for Manchester United, 450 for Real Madrid, 85 for Juventus and 102 for Portugal – so there is no doubt about his figure.
But the confusion seems to come from his goalscoring rivals of olden days.
Data from Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation (RSSSF) says Josef Bican is football’s all-time top scorer (excluding players who have never played at the top level) with 805 career goals (from only 530 games), with Romario on 772 and Pele on 767.
Bican, who died in 2001, played for five clubs including Rapid Vienna and Slavia Prague as well as Austria and Czechoslovakia – in a career which lasted from 1931 to 1955.
But among the 805 goals were 27 for Rapid’s reserve and amateur teams, as well as strikes which were not in official international games.
Remove those and Bican finished his career on 759 goals in 495 games. Well maybe, because RSSSF says some data is partially missing on the Czech second division in 1952.
However, the Czech national football team’s Twitter account posted its own response as to how many goals Bican had scored – suggesting Ronaldo still has work to do to claim the world record.
The team account’s tweet read: “The history and statistics committee of the Czech FA counted all the goals scored by the legendary Josef Bican and we can declare he scored 821 goals in official matches.”
Confused? Yes, us too.
So what of Pele and Romario? Again there is some dispute over their goal tallies – with both Brazilian strikers claiming to have netted more than 1,000 goals.
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi recently broke Pele’s world record of 643 goals for one club… but Santos then claimed Pele’s friendly goals count and he scored 1,091 for the club.
Pele’s own Instagram bio says he is the “Leading Goal Scorer of All Time (1,283)”.
But remove friendly and unofficial strikes (including one for a military team in 1959) and Pele’s 757 goals for Santos, Brazil and New York Cosmos seems to be the figure doing the rounds.
Romario celebrated his 1,000th goal in 2007 – but that included youth, friendly and testimonial games.
The Brazilian is credited with 745 goals in a career which took in spells in South America, Europe, Asia and Australia – although that goal tally seems to change from report to report.
So to answer the question, maybe Ronaldo is the highest scorer ever. Maybe. Possibly. Not sure actually.
We do know Messi is 41 behind after scoring 719 goals for Barcelona and Argentina in an era when stats are recorded more officially.
So at least we’ll know which of the two definitely scored the most goals in their career.