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List of footballers with 500 or more goals

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Cristiano Ronaldo is widely considered 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 IFFHS,[1] first published in 2007.[2] Taking into account competitions of all levels, 63 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]

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 Brazilian striker Romário celebrated scoring what he claimed was his 1,000th goal in 2007 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] In March 2022, Ronaldo surpassed Bican's purported tally of 805.[54][55]

Footballers with 500 or more goals

Bican
Josef Bican is credited by FIFA with 805 goals.
Pelé
Pelé, with 762 official goals according to the IFFHS, held the world record for around 50 years.
Schlosser
Imre Schlosser, the first footballer to score 500 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 5 June 2022.[1]
Bold indicates players currently active.
* indicates player has scored at least 500 goals for a single club.[56]
Rank Player Club Country and other Total Years
League Cup Continental
1 Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo 497[a] 51 150 115 813 2002–present
2 Argentina Lionel Messi* 480[b] 70 133 81 764 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 514[e] 76 55 84 729 1943–1966
6 Austria Czechoslovakia Josef Bican* 518[f] 129 41 32 720 1931–1955
7 Northern Ireland Jimmy Jones* 332[g] 301 2 12 647 1947–1964
8 Germany Gerd Müller* 405[h] 92 69 68 634 1964–1981
9 Portugal Eusébio 422[i] 97 59 41 619 1958–1981
10 Ireland Joe Bambrick 348[j] 247 0 21 616 1926–1943
11 Poland Robert Lewandowski 344[k] 49 95 75 563 2004–present
12 Northern Ireland Glenn Ferguson 313[l] 242 6 0 561 1987–2011
13 Sweden Zlatan Ibrahimović 393[m] 48 57 62 560 1999–present
14 Portugal Fernando Peyroteo* 464[n] 72 3 14 553 1937–1949
15 Scotland Jimmy McGrory* 409[o] 131 0 12 552 1922–1937
16 Germany Uwe Seeler* 446[p] 41 21 43 551 1954–1978
17 Argentina Spain Alfredo Di Stéfano 376[q] 55 70 29 530 1945–1966
18 Hungary György Sárosi 351[r] 31 102 42 526 1930–1948
19 Uruguay Luis Suárez 356[s] 43 53 68 520 2005–present
20 Brazil Roberto Dinamite 476[t] 8 5 22 511 1971–1992
21 Mexico Hugo Sánchez 390[u] 49 38 30 507 1976–1997
22 Hungary Imre Schlosser 417[v] 18 10 59 504 1905–1928
23 Austria Franz Binder 296[w] 93 87 26 502 1930–1949

RSSSF statistics

As the RSSSF uses different methodology from that of the IFFHS and other media outlets,[57] 63 players are credited with scoring 500 or more goals in matches taking into account competitions at all levels:[needs update]

As of 30 June 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 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+ 1028 0.91 1929–1961
4 Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo 833 1157 0.72 2002–present
5 Northern Ireland Jimmy Jones 833+ 751 1.11 1944–1965
6 Hungary Spain Ferenc Puskás 806 793 1.02 1943–1967
7 Argentina Lionel Messi 798 1031 0.77 2003–present
8 Hungary Ferenc Deák 795+ 511+ 1.56 1939–1959
9 Brazil Romário 784 1002 0.78 1984–2009
10 Netherlands Abe Lenstra 783+ 843+ 0.93 1936–1964
11 Brazil Pelé 778 846 0.92 1956–1977
12 England Tommy Lawton 741+ 824 0.9 1935–1957
13 West Germany Gerd Müller 735 793 0.93 1963–1981
14 Northern Ireland Joe Bambrick 690+ 578 1.19 1925–1943
15 Poland Germany Ernst Wilimowski 683+ 484 1.41 1932–1957
16 Northern Ireland Sammy Hughes 650+ 694 0.94 1943–1963
17 Hungary Ferenc Bene 632 955 0.66 1959–1985
18 Poland Robert Lewandowski 612 880 0.7 2004–present
19 Hungary Gyula Zsengellér 611 641 0.95 1931–1953
20 Northern Ireland Boy Martin 611+ 527 1.16 1930–1947
21 Northern Ireland Frederick Roberts 604+ 466 1.3 1922–1937
22 Portugal Fernando Peyroteo 598 369 1.62 1937–1949
23 Portugal Eusébio 591+ 631 0.94 1961–1978
24 England Jimmy Greaves 589 841 0.7 1956–1980
25 West Germany Uwe Seeler 582 686 0.85 1954–1972
26 Sweden Zlatan Ibrahimović 581 996 0.58 1999–present
27 Brazil Túlio Maravilha 576 839 0.69 1987–2014
28 Hungary Imre Schlosser 575+ 463 1.24 1906–1928
29 Germany Fritz Walter 574+ 572 1 1938–1959
30 Northern Ireland Glenn Ferguson 569 1084 0.52 1987–2011
31 Austria Franz Binder 569+ 431 1.32 1927–1949
32 England Dixie Dean 568 612 0.93 1923–1940
33 Scotland Hughie Gallacher 565+ 712 0.79 1920–1940
34 England Joe Smith 562+ 841 0.67 1908–1931
35 Mexico Hugo Sánchez 562 956 0.59 1976–1997
36 Portugal José Torres 561 615 0.91 1958–1980
37 England Stan Mortensen 561+ 742 0.76 1938–1962
38 Hungary Sándor Kocsis 556 537 1.04 1946–1966
39 Spain Isidro Lángara 553+ 444 1.25 1930–1948
40 Northern Ireland Jimmy Kelly 552+ 975 0.57 1926–1955
41 Republic of Ireland John Aldridge 551+ 981 0.56 1976–1998
42 Scotland Jimmy McGrory 549 545 1.01 1922–1938
43 Northern Ireland Tommy Dickson 546+ 780 0.7 1946–1966
44 Brazil Zico 546 798 0.68 1971–1994
45 Hungary Ferenc Szusza 544 598 0.91 1940–1961
46 Hungary József Takács 539 526 1.02 1920–1942
47 Scotland Jock Dodds 539 608 0.89 1932–1950
48 Scotland Dave Halliday 535+ 636 0.84 1920–1938
49 Uruguay Luis Suárez 526 874 0.6 2005–present
50 Hungary Nándor Hidegkuti 524 677 0.77 1938–1958
51 Brazil Roberto Dinamite 519 869 0.6 1971–1992
52 Austria Hans Krankl 518 725 0.71 1970–1989
53 Argentina Spain Alfredo Di Stéfano 515 704 0.73 1945–1966
54 Belgium Joseph Mermans 514 638 0.81 1937–1960
55 Northern Ireland Des Dickson 511 704 0.73 1964–1983
56 Sweden Gunnar Nordahl 510+ 587 0.87 1936–1961
57 England Steve Bloomer 509+ 760 0.67 1890–1914
58 Northern Ireland Trevor Thompson 509+ 580 0.88 1955–1969
59 Hungary György Sárosi 507 592 0.86 1929–1948
60 Netherlands Willy van der Kuijlen 504 805 0.63 1962–1983
61 Cameroon Roger Milla 503+ 905 0.56 1968–1996
62 England Arthur Rowley 502+ 729 0.69 1941–1967
63 Hungary Lajos Tichy 500 610 0.82 1952–1971

See also

References

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Notes

  1. ^ Played club football for Sporting CP, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus.
  2. ^ Played club football for Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain.
  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 Sporting Lourenço Marques, Benfica, Boston Minutemen, Monterrey, Toronto Metros-Croatia, Beira-Mar, Las Vegas Quicksilvers, União de Tomar and New Jersey Americans.
  10. ^ Played club football for Glentoran, Linfield, Chelsea and Walsall.
  11. ^ Played club football for Znicz Pruszków, Lech Poznań, Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich and Barcelona.
  12. ^ Played club football for Ards, Glenavon, Linfield and Lisburn Distillery.
  13. ^ Played club football for Malmö FF, Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United and LA Galaxy.
  14. ^ Played club football for Sporting CP.
  15. ^ Played club football for Celtic and Clydebank.
  16. ^ Played club football for Hamburger SV and Cork Celtic.
  17. ^ Played club football for River Plate, Huracán, Millonarios, Real Madrid and Espanyol.
  18. ^ Played club football for Ferencvárosi.
  19. ^ Played club football for Nacional, Groningen, Ajax, Liverpool, Barcelona, Atlético Madrid and Nacional.
  20. ^ Played club football for Vasco da Gama, Barcelona, Portuguesa and Campo Grande.
  21. ^ Played club football for UNAM, San Diego Sockers, Atlético Madrid, Real Madrid, América, Rayo Vallecano, Atlante, Linz, Dallas Burn and Atlético Celaya.
  22. ^ Played club football for Ferencvárosi, MTK Hungária, Wiener and Budai 33.
  23. ^ Played club football for Rapid Vienna.