List of footballers with 500 or more goals

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With over 850 goals at club and international level combined, Cristiano Ronaldo is the top goalscorer of all time.

In top-level association football competitions, 24 players have scored 500 or more goals over the course of their career in both club and international football, according to research by the IFFHS,[1] first published in 2007.[2] Taking into account competitions of all levels, 75 players have reached the milestone according to research by the 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, among them 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] 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 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 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] while goals scored during war-time, in lower-tiers and regional divisions, by players such as Bican, Ferenc Deák, Puskás, Seeler, Muller, Túlio Maravilha, and Robert Lewandowski, are also questioned.[34]

In 2021, Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo was reported to have broken the record when he scored his 760th goal,[35][36][37] although it was widely acknowledged it was impossible to quantify with certainty as statistics from previous generations are often disputed,[19][38][39][40][41][42] 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][43] 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".[44] There are other claims to the record; Guinness World Records credits Pelé as the scorer of the "most career goals", with 1,279,[45] and Brazilian striker Romário celebrated scoring what he claimed was his 1,000th goal in 2007 but later admitted his tally included friendly matches;[46] they are reported to have scored 767 and 772 goals, respectively,[19][47][48][49][50] 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.[51][52] The Encyclopædia Britannica notes that Brazilian Arthur Friedenreich is "officially recognised" by FIFA to have scored 1,329 goals,[53] although there is little evidence for, and no documentation of, this claim.[45][54] In March 2022, Ronaldo surpassed Bican's purported tally of 805.[55][56]

Footballers with 500 or more goals

Messi
Lionel Messi has scored the most goals for one club.
Pelé
Pelé held the world record for around 50 years.
Bican
Josef Bican is credited by FIFA with 805 goals.
Lewandowski
Robert Lewandowski, the most recent to score 500
Di Stéfano
Alfredo Di Stéfano, the first South American to score 500
Schlosser
Imre Schlosser, the first footballer to score 500 goals

According to the IFFHS and other media outlets, 24 players are credited with scoring 500 or more goals in top-level professional football competitions:

As of 2 October 2023.[1]
Bold indicates players currently active.
* indicates player has scored at least 500 goals for a single club.[57]
Rank Player Club Country and other Total Career span
League Cup Continental
1 Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo 522[a] 51 159 123 855[62] 2002–present
2 Argentina Lionel Messi* 497[b] 71 147 104 819[67] 2004–present
3 Brazil Pelé* 604[c] 49 26 83 762 1957–1977
4 Brazil Romário 544[d] 93 54 64 755 1985–2007
5 Hungary Spain Ferenc Puskás 515[e] 69 56 84 724 1943–1966
6 Austria Czechoslovakia Josef Bican* 515[f] 134 41 32 722 1931–1955
7 Northern Ireland Jimmy Jones* 332[g] 290 14 12 648 1947–1964
8 West Germany Gerd Müller* 405[h] 92 69 68 634 1964–1981
9 Northern Ireland Joe Bambrick 348[i] 260 0 21 629 1926–1943
10 Netherlands Abe Lenstra 573[j] 18 0 33 624 1937–1960
11 Portugal Eusébio 422[k] 97 59 41 619 1957–1978
12 Poland Robert Lewandowski 372[l] 53 102 81 608[72] 2008–present
13 Northern Ireland Glenn Ferguson 313[m] 241 9 0 563 1987–2011
14 Sweden Zlatan Ibrahimović 394[n] 48 57 62 561 1999–2023
15 Portugal Fernando Peyroteo* 464[o] 72 3 14 553 1937–1949
16 West Germany Uwe Seeler* 447[p] 41 21 43 552 1954–1972
17 Scotland Jimmy McGrory* 409[q] 131 0 12 552 1922–1937
18 Uruguay Luis Suárez 372[r] 45 53 68 538[77] 2005–present
19 Argentina Spain Alfredo Di Stéfano 376[s] 55 70 29 530 1945–1966
20 Hungary György Sárosi 351[t] 22 102 42 517 1930–1948
21 Brazil Roberto Dinamite 476[u] 8 5 22 511 1971–1992
22 Mexico Hugo Sánchez 390[v] 49 38 30 507 1976–1997
23 Hungary Imre Schlosser 417[w] 18 10 59 504 1905–1928
24 Austria Franz Binder 297[x] 93 87 26 503 1930–1949

RSSSF statistics

As the RSSSF uses different methodology from that of the IFFHS and other media outlets to determine which goals to include,[78] 75 players are credited with scoring 500 or more goals in matches taking into account competitions at all levels:

As of 7 July 2023.[3]
Bold indicates players currently active.
+ indicates player may have scored and played more.
Rank Player Goals Matches Ratio Career span
1 West Germany Erwin Helmchen 987+ 577 1.71 1924–1951
2 Austria Czechoslovakia Josef Bican 950+ 624 1.52 1930–1957
3 England Ronnie Rooke 931+ 1029 0.9 1929–1961
4 Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo 856 1204 0.71 2002–present
5 Northern Ireland Jimmy Jones 840+ 756 1.11 1944–1965
6 Argentina Lionel Messi 836 1085 0.77 2003–present
7 HungarySpain Ferenc Puskás 802 792 1.01 1943–1967
8 Hungary Ferenc Deák 795+ 514 1.55 1939–1959
9 Netherlands Abe Lenstra 789+ 850 0.93 1936–1964
10 Brazil Romário 785 1003 0.78 1984–2009
11 Brazil Pelé 778 851 0.91 1956–1977
12 England Tommy Lawton 743+ 827 0.9 1935–1957
13 West Germany Gerd Müller 735 793 0.93 1963–1981
14 Northern Ireland Sammy Hughes 722+ 748 0.97 1943–1963
15 Northern Ireland Joe Bambrick 690+ 578 1.19 1925–1943
16 Poland Germany Ernst Wilimowski 683+ 484 1.41 1932–1957
17 England Tom Waring 670+ 700+ 0.96 1924–1948
18 Poland Robert Lewandowski 653 936 0.7 2004–present
19 Hungary Ferenc Bene 635 971 0.65 1959–1985
20 Portugal Eusébio 626+ 658 0.95 1960–1978
21 England Joe Smith 616+ 903 0.68 1908–1931
22 Northern Ireland Boy Martin 611+ 527 1.16 1930–1947
23 Hungary Gyula Zsengellér 611+ 649 0.94 1931–1953
24 Northern Ireland Frederick Roberts 608+ 468 1.3 1922–1937
25 England Stan Mortensen 606+ 810 0.75 1938–1962
26 Portugal Fernando Peyroteo 598 369 1.62 1937–1949
27 England Jimmy Greaves 590+ 842 0.7 1956–1980
28 West Germany Uwe Seeler 586 688 0.85 1954–1972
29 Germany Fritz Walter 586+ 583 1.01 1938–1959
30 Brazil Túlio Maravilha 585 950+ 0.62 1987–2014
31 Sweden Zlatan Ibrahimović 582 1001 0.58 1999–2023
32 Northern Ireland Jimmy Kelly 571+ 1000 0.57 1925–1957
33 Hungary Imre Schlosser 570 464 1.23 1906–1928
34 Northern Ireland Glenn Ferguson 569 1084 0.52 1987–2011
35 Austria Franz Binder 569+ 431 1.32 1927–1949
36 England Dixie Dean 568 612 0.93 1923–1940
37 Scotland Hughie Gallacher 566+ 715 0.79 1920–1940
38 Republic of Ireland John Aldridge 565+ 990 0.57 1976–1998
39 Mexico Hugo Sánchez 562 956 0.59 1974–1998
40 Portugal José Torres 561 615 0.91 1958–1980
41 Scotland Jimmy McGrory 558 549 1.02 1922–1938
42 Hungary Sándor Kocsis 556 537 1.04 1946–1966
43 Spain Isidro Lángara 556+ 445 1.25 1930–1948
44 Belgium Paul Dechamps 552+ 608 0.91 1939–1964
45 England David Wilson 551+ 605 0.91 1927–1947
46 Uruguay Luis Suárez 550 923 0.6 2005–present
47 Northern Ireland Tommy Dickson 546+ 782 0.7 1946–1966
48 Brazil Zico 546 798 0.68 1971–1994
49 Hungary Ferenc Szusza 544 599 0.91 1940–1961
50 Scotland Dave Halliday 543+ 640 0.85 1920–1938
51 Scotland Jock Dodds 542 612 0.89 1932–1950
52 Hungary József Takács 542 528 1.03 1920–1942
53 Scotland Jimmy Smith 540+ 516 1.05 1928–1947
54 Scotland Hughie Ferguson 528+ 559 0.94 1914–1930
55 Argentina Spain Alfredo Di Stéfano 524 715 0.73 1945–1966
56 Hungary Nándor Hidegkuti 523 681 0.77 1938–1958
57 Northern Ireland Des Dickson 523+ 716 0.73 1964–1983
58 England Dennis Westcott 522+ 575 0.91 1933–1954
59 Brazil Roberto Dinamite 519 869 0.6 1971–1992
60 Austria Hans Krankl 518 725 0.71 1970–1989
61 Belgium Joseph Mermans 518 644 0.8 1937–1960
62 Sweden Gunnar Nordahl 514+ 597 0.86 1936–1961
63 Italy Giorgio Chinaglia 512+ 707 0.72 1962–1990
64 Northern Ireland Trevor Thompson 512+ 585 0.88 1955–1969
65 Scotland David McLean 511+ 801 0.64 1906–1931
66 Hungary György Sárosi 509 597 0.85 1929–1948
67 Netherlands Willy van der Kuijlen 504 807 0.62 1962–1983
68 Cameroon Roger Milla 504+ 907 0.56 1968–1996
69 England Steve Bloomer 504 755 0.67 1891–1920
70 Belgium Albert de Cleyn 503 588 0.86 1933–1955
71 England George Camsell 503+ 590 0.85 1923–1942
72 Northern Ireland Dennis Guy 503+ 630 0.8 1960–1976
73 Hungary Romania István Avar 503+ 447 1.13 1922–1949
74 England Arthur Rowley 502+ 729 0.69 1941–1967
75 Hungary Lajos Tichy 500 628 0.8 1952–1971

See also

References

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Notes

  1. ^ Played club football for Sporting CP, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Juventus, and Al Nassr.
  2. ^ Played club football for Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, and Inter Miami.
  3. ^ Played club football for Santos and New York Cosmos.
  4. ^ Played club football for Vasco da Gama, PSV Eindhoven, Barcelona, Flamengo, Valencia, Fluminense, Al Sadd, Miami, Adelaide United, and America.
  5. ^ Played club football for Budapest Honved and Real Madrid.
  6. ^ Played club football for Rapid Vienna, Admira Vienna, Slavia Prague, FC Vítkovice, FC Hradec Králové, Dynamo Prague, Slovan Liberec, and Spartak Brno ZJŠ.
  7. ^ Played club football for Belfast Celtic, Glenavon, Portadown, and Bangor.
  8. ^ Played club football for Bayern Munich and Fort Lauderdale Strikers.
  9. ^ Played club football for Glentoran, Linfield, Chelsea, and Walsall.
  10. ^ Played club football for Heerenveen, SC Enschede, and Enschedese Boys.
  11. ^ Played club football for Sporting Lourenço Marques, Benfica, Boston Minutemen, Monterrey, Toronto Metros-Croatia, Beira-Mar, Las Vegas Quicksilvers, União de Tomar, and New Jersey Americans.
  12. ^ Played club football for Znicz Pruszków, Lech Poznań, Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich, and Barcelona.
  13. ^ Played club football for Ards, Glenavon, Linfield, and Lisburn Distillery.
  14. ^ Played club football for Malmö FF, Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United, and LA Galaxy.
  15. ^ Played club football for Sporting CP.
  16. ^ Played club football for Hamburger SV and Cork Celtic.
  17. ^ Played club football for Celtic and Clydebank.
  18. ^ Played club football for Nacional, Groningen, Ajax, Liverpool, Barcelona, Atlético Madrid, and Grêmio.
  19. ^ Played club football for River Plate, Huracán, Millonarios, Real Madrid, and Espanyol.
  20. ^ Played club football for Ferencvárosi.
  21. ^ Played club football for Vasco da Gama, Barcelona, Portuguesa, and Campo Grande.
  22. ^ Played club football for UNAM, San Diego Sockers, Atlético Madrid, Real Madrid, América, Rayo Vallecano, Atlante, Linz, Dallas Burn, and Atlético Celaya.
  23. ^ Played club football for Ferencvárosi, MTK Hungária, Wiener AC, and Budai 33.
  24. ^ Played club football for Rapid Vienna.