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Football | Cristiano Ronaldo: The Greatest Goalscorer in History?

With his two goals against Juventus, Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player to score in 10 consecutive Champions League games. It extended his lead as the highest goal scorer in the tournament's history. Now 33 years old, the Portuguese star continues to set goalscoring records and as is the problem with any article you write including the legend's stats, it rarely ages well. But if we are take it from this right moment, April 5 2018, how does he compare to the best goalscorers in history? I have ranked the greatest goalscorers by a criteria that includes:

  1. Strength of Opposition

  2. Big Match Goals

  3. Club Football Goal Record

  4. International Football Goal Record

  5. Goal Record at their Peak 8. Romario According to official records, Romario scored 772 goals in 994 games from 1985-2007. The year 2007 stands out, because most will not remember much of Romario from the late 1990s onwards. He left Barcelona in 1995. Romario, however, was lethal in his peak. He scored 30 in 33 in 1993-94 La Liga for Barcelona, and 24 in 25 for PSV in 1999-91 Eredivisie. He then continued to score quite prolifically in Brazil, scoring nearly a goal per game ratio from 1997-2002. At international level, he scored 55 goals in 70 games for Brazil, including an incredible 19 goals in 17 games in 1997. At the 1994 World Cup, he scored 5 goals as Brazil won the World Cup. Romario falls behind some of the other players because many of his goals came in the Brazilian league, at a time where many of Brazil's best players were playing in Europe. 7. Josef Bican Not a household name, but Josef Bican's goalscoring was incredible. From 1931-55, Bican scored an incredible 805 goals in only 530 matches, firing them in at an incredible 1.52 ratio. Bican was a pacey striker, who could reportedly run 100 metres in 10.8 seconds in the 1930s, and could score with both feet. Born in Vienna, Bican played for Czechoslovakia and Austria, and was a part of the Wunderteam for Austria that almost won the 1934 World Cup. He scored an amazing 395 goals in 217 games While Bican holds many records, he did benefit from playing during the World War II era, and since so few of his goals were against international teams, it is tough to rate him as the greatest goalscorer of all-time. 6. Eusebio The Cristiano Ronaldo of his era, it is only in recent years that Ronaldo has passed this legend in the pantheon of Portuguese greats. Nicknamed the Black Pearl, African-born Eusebio scored 638 goals in 614 games in Benfica, his peak coming in 1967-68, when he scored 50 goals in only 35 games, becoming the first ever winner of the European Golden Boot. Benfica just missed out on a League-European Cup double that year, as Eusebio was denied by an amazing save by Alex Stepney in the final, as Manchester United won the trophy. Eusebio won the European Cup with Benfica in 1962, the Ballon d'Or in 1965, and a host of other accolades for his goalscoring. One of his proudest would have been the FIFA Golden Boot from the 1966 World Cup, where he scored 9 goals in only 5 games, including two against the defending champions Brazil, and four against North Korea. He scored 47 in 63 internationally. The 1966 World Cup was the only international tournament that he ever played. Cristiano Ronaldo, for example, will play in his eighth come summer time. While Eusebio scored many goals in a weak enough Portuguese league, every time he played at international level, he showed that he was one of the greats. 5. Ferenc Puskas With 746 goals in 754 games, Hungarian forward Ferenc Puskas played in two of the greatest teams of all-time, the Hungarian team of the 1950s known as the 'Magical Magyars', and the Real Madrid team of the late 1950s who won five consecutive European Cups. For Budapest Honved, he scored an outstanding 427 goals in only 307 games from 1943 to 1955. Only joining Real Madrid in 1958 at 31 years old, following the Hungarian Revolution, Puskas was top scorer in Spain four times, and scored an amazing seven goals in two European Cup finals. His best season came in 1959-60, when he scored 47 in 36 games as Real Madrid won the European Cup. Internationally, he has a truly astounding record of 84 goals in 85 games for Hungary. He could have had more had he not stopped playing for them at 29 years old. 4. Pele The 'King of Football', Pele was the most complete forward of all-time, and with that comes an exceptional goalscoring record. The Brazilian has always been an expert at self-promotion, and claims to have scored 1,000 goals. In truth, it is down officially as 767 in 831 games. Which is still exceptional. Pele spent his entire career at Santos. By today's standards Brazil is a weak league, but this was an era where players rarely left their own countries. Given that Brazil won three of the four World Cups from 1958-70, the league included some of the world's best. Pele was also prolific on the road in touring matches, scoring a hat-trick against Benfica in Lisbon in the 1962 Intercontinental Cup. It is international football where Pele became a legend though. He scored 77 goals in 92 games, including 12 goals in the World Cup, scoring six goals in the quarters, semis, finals as a teenager in the 1958 World Cup. 3. Lionel Messi The fact that Messi is on this list at just 30 shows that he is one of the best players in history. Add this to the fact that he has often been tasked with playmaking for Barcelona and Argentina too, unlike Cristiano Ronaldo for much of his career and Muller for example, underlines his greatness. When Messi had the single-minded focus for goals, he produced the greatest goalscoring peak of all-time, scoring 91 goals in a single year in 2012. The little Argentine holds the records for most official goals scored in La Liga, a La Liga season, a club football season in Europe, a calendar year, and El Clasico. He is second in the most goals scored in the Champions League He has scored at a 0.78 record throughout his career, only held back slightly by scoring only 61 goals in 123 international games, and just four goals in the World Cup. 2. Cristiano Ronaldo Ronaldo, who began his career as a winger, has transformed into the ultimate striker, compiling a simply stunning record in the biggest club competition in football. With 14 goals in 9 games this season, Ronaldo has scored over 10 goals in the Champions League for the seventh consecutive season. Ronaldo's recent double against Juventus came against one of the meanest defences in Europe. He is the most prolific scorer in the knockout stages of the competition by some margin. Internationally, Ronaldo is the second highest scorer of all-time with 81 goals, but it must come with the caveat of having been achieved in 149 games. The only thing that lets Ronaldo down is having only scored three World Cup goals in 13 games, and that is something he will be set on changing in Russia.

  6. Gerd Muller With 735 goals in 793 games, Gerd Muller is the king of goalscoring, at least for now. The German performed at every level of the game, helping Bayern Munich win three European Cups and Germany win the 1972 European Championship and the 1974 World Cup. A classic poacher, 'Der Bomber', scored 85 goals in 1972, a world record until surpassed by Lionel Messi. He scored 365 times in Bundesliga at a time where Bayern Munich faced good opposition from Borussia Monchengladbach in the league. Muller scored a brilliant 68 goals in just 62 appearances for Germany. But it is the quality of opposition where his goals came that stand out the most. He won the Golden Boot at the 1970 World Cup with 10 goals, and including qualifying matches, he scored 19 goals in just 12 games. Muller scored two in the 1970 World Cup semi-final, two in the Euro 1972 semi-final, two in the 1972 final, the winner in the 1974 World Cup semi-final, the winner in the 1974 final. At continental club level, he scored two in the 1974 European Cup final, once in the 1975 final, and while he didn't score in the 1976 final, he brought Bayern to the final with three goals in the semi-final games against Real Madrid. Muller may not have been the best all-round player of all-time. But nobody knew how to score like he did.

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