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List of footballers with 500 or more goals

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Josef Bican is credited by FIFA with 805 goals.
Cristiano Ronaldo is widely believed to be the top goalscorer of all time.

In top-level football competitions, 23 players have scored 500 or more goals over the course of their career in both club and international football, according to research by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS),[1] first published in 2007.[2] Taking into account competitions of all levels, 56 players have reached the milestone according to research by the Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation (RSSSF),[3] an organisation described by German newspaper Der Spiegel as a "Wikipedia of football statistics".[4] Hungarian Imre Schlosser was the first to reach the 500-goal mark, doing so in 1927 shortly before his retirement.[5] Eight players have accomplished the feat at a single club; Josef Bican (Slavia Prague), Jimmy Jones (Glenavon), Jimmy McGrory (Celtic), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Gerd Müller (Bayern Munich), Pelé (Santos), Fernando Peyroteo (Sporting CP) and Uwe Seeler (Hamburg).[6] Of these eight, Messi scored the most, with 672 goals between his debut in 2004 and his departure in 2021.[7]

FIFA, the international governing body of football, has never released a list detailing the highest goalscorers and does not keep official records;[8][9] however, in 2020, it recognised Bican, an Austrian-Czech dual international who played between the 1930s and the 1950s,[10] as the record scorer with an estimated 805 goals,[11][12] although CNN, the BBC, France 24, and O Jogo all acknowledge that Bican's tally of 805 includes goals scored for reserve teams and in unofficial international matches.[9][13][14][15] UEFA, the governing body for European football, ranks him as the leading all-time goalscorer in European top-flight leagues with 518 goals, narrowly ahead of Hungarian Ferenc Puskás.[16] The RSSSF credits Bican with 948 goals, a tally which includes goals scored in winter tournaments, as well as when selected to represent regional and city teams,[17] and the Football Association of the Czech Republic claims a total of 821.[18][19] Spanish newspapers Marca and Sport state that both Bican and Pelé scored 762 goals.[20][21] Such is the difficulty for statisticians and media outlets to determine which goals to include that the topic has spurred controversy;[22][23] Bican once walked out of a gala held in his honour by the IFFHS after the organisation had excluded war-time goals from his tally, although it later recognised 229 goals he had scored during the period.[24]

Media outlets around the world such as Sky Sports, ESPN, and Globo Esporte argue that for Brazilian forward Pelé and players of his era friendly matches were highly important fixtures and held more resonance, and the tallies accumulated should therefore be included,[25][26][27] while journalist Hugh McIlvanney once described them as mere "profit-making excursions" that bore little "relevance to Pelé's reality as a great player",[28] and Jonathan Liew stated that many of the friendlies were "against up-country teams or down-at-heel invitational sides".[29] When Argentinian forward Messi was reported to have broken the record for most goals for a single club (644 for Spanish club Barcelona), Pelé's former club Santos denied the claim, releasing a statement saying 448 of Pelé's goals scored in friendlies had been uncounted,[30] and arguing that many of the goals came against "the best teams of all time"[31] - statements Pelé agreed with by publicly changing his overall tally to 1,283 on Instagram.[32] When reporting the statistics of Messi, Barcelona argued that because Bican and Pelé, as well as Erwin Helmchen and Abe Lenstra among others, scored the majority of their goals in leagues which were not played at a national level, their tallies should be questioned and potentially not counted.[33]

In 2021, Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo was reported to have broken the record when he scored his 760th goal,[34][35][36] although it was widely acknowledged it was impossible to quantify with certainty as statistics from previous generations are often disputed,[19][37][38][39][40][41] as highlighted by football journalist Jonathan Wilson and Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport's editor Ivan Zazzaroni, who recognised the possibility that German striker Helmchen had scored a purported 981 goals.[17][42] Ronaldo himself addressed the issue, saying that "the world has changed since then and football has changed as well, but this doesn't mean that we can just erase history according to our interests".[43] There are other claims to the record; the Guinness World Records credits Pelé as the scorer of the "most career goals", with 1,279,[44] and in 2007, Brazilian striker Romário celebrated scoring what he claimed was his 1,000th goal but later admitted his tally included friendly matches;[45] they are reported to have scored 767 and 772 goals, respectively,[19][46][47][48][49] with Pelé's total including one goal for the military team and nine goals for the state team of São Paulo at the State Team Championship.[50][51] The Encyclopædia Britannica notes that Brazilian Arthur Friedenreich is "officially recognised" by FIFA to have scored 1,329 goals,[52] although there is little evidence for, and no documentation of, this claim.[44][53]

Footballers with 500 or more goals

Di Stéfano
Alfredo Di Stéfano - the first South American to score 500
Messi
Lionel Messi - scored the most goals for one club
Lewandowski
Robert Lewandowski - the most recent to score 500

According to the IFFHS and other media outlets, 23 players are credited with scoring 500 or more goals in top-level football competitions.

As of 7 January 2022[1][54][55]
Bold indicates players currently active.
* indicates player has scored at least 500 goals for a single club.[56]
Rank Player League Cup Continental Country & other Total Years
1 Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo 487 51 150 115 803 2002–present
2 Brazil Pelé* 606 49 27 83 765 1957–1977
3 Argentina Lionel Messi* 475 70 133 80 758 2004–present
4 Brazil Romário 544 91 54 64 753 1985–2007
5 Hungary Ferenc Puskás 514 76 55 84 729 1943–1966
6 Austria Czechoslovakia Josef Bican* 518 129 41 32 720 1931–1955
7 Northern Ireland Jimmy Jones* 332 301 2 12 647 1947–1964
8 Germany Gerd Müller* 405 92 69 68 634 1964–1981
9 Portugal Eusébio 425 97 59 41 622 1958–1981
10 Ireland Joe Bambrick 348 247 0 21 616 1926–1943
11 Northern Ireland Glenn Ferguson 311 245 6 0 562 1987–2011
12 Sweden Zlatan Ibrahimović 392 48 57 62 559 1999–present
13 Portugal Fernando Peyroteo* 463 72 3 14 552 1937–1949
14 Germany Uwe Seeler* 446 41 21 43 551 1954–1978
15 Scotland Jimmy McGrory* 408 130 0 12 550 1922–1937
16 Poland Robert Lewandowski 328 49 91 74 542 2008–present
17 Argentina Spain Alfredo Di Stéfano 376 55 70 29 530 1945–1966
18 Hungary György Sárosi 351 31 102 42 526 1930–1948
19 Uruguay Luis Suárez 352 42 53 65 512 2005–present
20 Brazil Roberto Dinamite 476 8 5 22 511 1971–1992
21 Mexico Hugo Sánchez 390 49 38 30 507 1976–1997
22 Hungary Imre Schlosser 417 18 10 59 504 1905–1928
23 Austria Franz Binder 296 93 87 26 502 1930–1949

RSSSF statistics

As the RSSSF uses different methodology from that of the IFFHS and other media outlets;[57] 56 players are credited with scoring 500 or more goals in matches, taking into account competitions at all levels.[3][needs update]

As of 24 January 2022[3]
Bold indicates players currently active.
"+" indicates some matches are unaccounted for and therefore the number of goals and matches could be higher.
Rank Player Goals Matches Ratio Years
1 Germany Erwin Helmchen 987+ 578 1.71 1924–1951
2 Austria Czechoslovakia Josef Bican 950+ 624 1.52 1930–1957
3 England Ronnie Rooke 929+ 1028 0.9 1929–1961
4 Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo 821 1134 0.72 2002–present
5 Northern Ireland Jimmy Jones 809+ 735 1.1 1944–1965
6 Hungary Ferenc Puskás 806 793 1.02 1943–1967
7 Hungary Ferenc Deák 795+ 511+ 1.56 1939–1959
8 Argentina Lionel Messi 787 1002 0.79 2003–present
9 Brazil Romário 784 1002 0.78 1984–2009
10 Brazil Pelé 778 846 0.92 1956–1977
11 Netherlands Abe Lenstra 775+ 826+ 0.94 1936–1964
12 England Tommy Lawton 741+ 824 0.9 1935–1957
13 Germany Gerd Müller 735 793 0.93 1963–1981
14 Poland Germany Ernst Wilimowski 683+ 484 1.41 1932–1957
15 Northern Ireland Joe Bambrick 678+ 566 1.2 1925–1943
16 Hungary Ferenc Bene 630 946 0.67 1959–1985
17 Hungary Gyula Zsengellér 611 641 0.95 1931–1953
18 Northern Ireland Boy Martin 600+ 524 1.15 1930–1947
19 Portugal Fernando Peyroteo 597 369 1.62 1937–1949
Poland Robert Lewandowski 597 866 0.69 2004–present
21 Portugal Eusébio 591+ 631 0.94 1961–1978
22 England Jimmy Greaves 589 841 0.7 1956–1980
23 Germany Uwe Seeler 582 686 0.85 1954–1972
24 Sweden Zlatan Ibrahimović 580 984 0.59 1999–present
25 Brazil Túlio Maravilha 576 839 0.69 1987–2014
26 Hungary Imre Schlosser 575+ 463 1.24 1906–1928
27 Northern Ireland Frederick Roberts 574+ 445 1.29 1922–1937
Germany Fritz Walter 574+ 572 1 1938–1959
29 Austria Franz Binder 569+ 430 1.32 1927–1949
30 England Dixie Dean 568 612 0.93 1923–1940
31 Scotland Hughie Gallacher 565+ 712 0.79 1920–1940
32 Northern Ireland Glenn Ferguson 563 1058 0.53 1987–2011
33 Mexico Hugo Sánchez 562 956 0.59 1976–1997
34 Portugal José Torres 561 615 0.91 1958–1980
35 Hungary Sándor Kocsis 556 537 1.04 1946–1966
36 England Stan Mortensen 553+ 734 0.75 1938–1962
37 Spain Isidro Lángara 551+ 443 1.24 1930–1948
Republic of Ireland John Aldridge 551+ 981 0.56 1976–1998
39 Northern Ireland Jimmy Kelly 550+ 967 0.57 1926–1955
40 Scotland Jimmy McGrory 549 545 1.01 1922–1938
41 Brazil Zico 546 798 0.68 1971–1994
42 Hungary Ferenc Szusza 544 598 0.91 1940–1961
43 Hungary József Takács 539 526 1.02 1920–1942
Scotland Jock Dodds 539 605 0.89 1932–1950
45 Northern Ireland Tommy Dickson 536+ 776 0.69 1946–1966
46 Scotland Dave Halliday 535+ 636 0.84 1920–1938
47 Hungary Nándor Hidegkuti 524 677 0.77 1938–1958
48 Brazil Roberto Dinamite 519 869 0.6 1971–1992
49 Austria Hans Krankl 518 725 0.71 1970–1989
Uruguay Luis Suárez 518 849 0.61 2005–present
51 Argentina Spain Alfredo Di Stéfano 515 704 0.73 1945–1966
52 Belgium Joseph Mermans 514 638 0.81 1937–1960
53 Sweden Gunnar Nordahl 510+ 587 0.87 1936–1961
54 England Steve Bloomer 509+ 760 0.67 1890–1914
55 Hungary György Sárosi 507 592 0.86 1929–1948
56 Netherlands Willy van der Kuijlen 504 805 0.63 1962–1983
57 Cameroon Roger Milla 503+ 905 0.56 1968–1996
58 England Arthur Rowley 502+ 729+ 0.69 1941–1967
59 Hungary Lajos Tichy 500 610 0.82 1952–1971

See also

References

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