Josef Bican is credited by FIFA with over 800 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 do 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] while 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 for 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

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 1 September 2021[1]
Bold indicates players currently active.
"" indicates they achieved the feat for one club.[54]
Rank Player League Cup Continental Country & special Total Years
1 Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo[55] 479 51 144 111 785 2002–present
2 Brazil Pelé[56] 606 49 27 83 765 1957–1977
3 Brazil Romário 544 91 54 64 753 1985–2007
4 Argentina Lionel Messi[57] 474 70 128 76 748 2004–present
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 Portugal Fernando Peyroteo 463 72 3 14 552 1937–1949
Sweden Zlatan Ibrahimović[58] 385 48 57 62 1999–present
14 Germany Uwe Seeler 446 41 21 43 551 1954–1978
15 Scotland Jimmy McGrory 408 130 0 12 550 1922–1937
16 Argentina Spain Alfredo Di Stéfano 376 55 70 29 530 1945–1966
17 Hungary György Sárosi 351 31 102 42 526 1930–1948
18 Brazil Roberto Dinamite 476 8 5 22 511 1971–1992
Poland Robert Lewandowski[59] 311 49 82 69 2008–present
20 Mexico Hugo Sánchez 390 49 38 30 507 1976–1997
21 Hungary Imre Schlosser 417 18 10 59 504 1905–1928
22 Uruguay Luis Suárez[60] 345 42 52 64 503 2005–present
23 Austria Franz Binder 296 93 87 26 502 1930–1949

RSSSF statistics

As the RSSSF use different methodology from that of the IFFHS and other media outlets,[61] 56 players are credited with scoring 500 or more goals in matches, taking into account competitions at all levels.[3][needs update]

As of 1 September 2021[3]
Bold indicates players currently active.
"+" indicates some matches are unnacounted for and therefore the number of goals and matches could be higher.
Rank Player Goals Matches Ratio Years
1 Germany Erwin Helmchen 982+ 575 1.71 1924–1951
2 Austria Czechoslovakia Josef Bican 948+ 621 1.53 1931–1957
3 England Ronnie Rooke 886+ 955+ 0.93 1930–1961
4 Hungary Ferenc Puskás 806 793 1.02 1943–1967
5 Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo 803 1109 0.72 2001–present
6 Hungary Ferenc Deák 795+ 511+ 1.56 1939–1959
7 Brazil Romário 780 1000 0.78 1984–2009
8 Argentina Lionel Messi 777 986 0.79 2003–present
9 Netherlands Abe Lenstra 775+ 826+ 0.94 1936–1963
Brazil Pelé 775 840 0.92 1956–1977
11 England Tommy Lawton 736+ 820 0.9 1935–1956
12 Germany Gerd Müller 735 793 0.93 1963–1981
13 Northern Ireland Joe Bambrick 678+ 566+ 1.2 1925–1943
14 Northern Ireland Jimmy Jones 674+ 637+ 1.06 1946–1965
15 Poland Germany Ernst Wilimowski 663+ 474 1.4 1932–1957
16 Hungary Ferenc Bene 630 946 0.67 1959–1985
17 Hungary Gyula Zsengellér 611 641 0.95 1931–1953
18 Portugal Fernando Peyroteo 597 369 1.62 1937–1949
19 Portugal Eusébio 591+ 631 0.94 1961–1978
20 Germany Uwe Seeler 582 686 0.85 1954–1972
21 Northern Ireland Boy Martin 581+ 504+ 1.15 1930–1947
22 Brazil Túlio Maravilha 576 839 0.69 1987–2014
23 Germany Fritz Walter 574+ 572 1 1938–1959
24 Sweden Zlatan Ibrahimović 573 966 0.59 1999–present
25 Austria Franz Binder 569+ 430 1.32 1927–1949
Hungary Imre Schlosser 569+ 458 1.24 1906–1928
27 England Jimmy Greaves 568+ 814 0.7 1956–1979
Poland Robert Lewandowski 568 837 0.68 2005–present
29 Scotland Hughie Gallacher 565+ 712 0.79 1920–1940
30 Northern Ireland Glenn Ferguson 563 1058 0.53 1987–2011
31 Mexico Hugo Sánchez 562 956 0.59 1976–1997
32 Portugal José Torres 561 615 0.91 1958–1980
33 Hungary Sándor Kocsis 556 537 1.04 1946–1966
34 Northern Ireland Frederick Roberts 554+ 427 1.3 1923–1937
35 Republic of Ireland John Aldridge 551+ 981+ 0.56 1976–1998
36 Scotland Jimmy McGrory 549 545 1.01 1922–1938
37 Brazil Zico 545 797 0.68 1971–1994
38 Hungary Ferenc Szusza 544 598 0.91 1940–1961
39 Hungary József Takács 539 526 1.02 1920–1942
40 Scotland Jock Dodds 538 604 0.89 1932–1950
Northern Ireland Jimmy Kelly 538+ 951 0.57 1926–1956
42 Spain Isidro Lángara 534+ 433 1.23 1930–1948
43 England Dixie Dean 531 577 0.92 1923–1940
44 Hungary Nándor Hidegkuti 526 678 0.78 1938–1958
45 Austria Hans Krankl 518 725 0.71 1970–1989
46 Brazil Roberto Dinamite 517 852 0.61 1971–1992
47 Argentina Spain Alfredo Di Stéfano 513 703 0.73 1945–1966
48 Sweden Gunnar Nordahl 510+ 587 0.87 1936–1961
49 Belgium Joseph Mermans 509 634 0.8 1937–1960
Uruguay Luis Suárez 509 820 0.62 2005–present
51 Hungary György Sárosi 507 592 0.86 1929–1948
England Steve Bloomer 507+ 753 0.67 1890–1914
53 Netherlands Willy van der Kuijlen 504 805 0.63 1962–1983
54 Cameroon Roger Milla 503+ 905 0.56 1968–1996
55 England Arthur Rowley 502+ 729+ 0.69 1941–1967
56 Hungary Lajos Tichy 500 610 0.82 1952–1971

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "IFFHS All-Time World's Best Goalscorer Ranking". International Federation of Football History & Statistics. 1 March 2021. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  2. ^ Relaño, Alfredo (14 February 2021). "Bican, el goleador perdido tras el humo de la guerra" [Bican, the scorer lost after the smoke of war]. El País (in Spanish). PRISA. Retrieved 2 July 2021.
  3. ^ a b c Kolos, Vladimir. "Prolific Scorers Data". RSSSF. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  4. ^ Haupt, Florian (1 July 2020). "Das Prinzip Messi ist Teil des Problems" [The Messi principle is part of the problem]. Der Spiegel (in German). Retrieved 2 July 2021.
  5. ^ "Schlosser volt az első 500 gólos focista a futball történetében" [Schlosser was the first 500-goal football player in the history of football]. Origo (in Hungarian). 24 March 2021. Retrieved 20 August 2021.
  6. ^ Wright, Chris (22 December 2020). "Barcelona's Messi stands above Pele, Ronaldo, Eusebio, Muller as all-time top goal scorer for one club". ESPN. Retrieved 7 July 2021.
  7. ^ White, Tom (5 August 2021). "672 goals, 34 trophies, six Ballon d'Or: Lionel Messi's record at Barcelona in numbers". The Independent. Retrieved 22 August 2021.
  8. ^ "Ronaldo congratulated by Pele for breaking his goals record". The Athletic. 15 March 2021. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  9. ^ a b Church, Ben; Grez, Matias (15 March 2021). "'What a beautiful journey': Pele congratulates Cristiano Ronaldo for surpassing Brazilian's 'record of goals in official matches'". CNN. WarnerMedia. Retrieved 1 July 2021.
  10. ^ Cripps, Simon (22 July 2013). "Remembering Josef 'Pepi' Bican, once Europe's greatest goalscorer". Sky Sports. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  11. ^ "The master of marksmen". FIFA. 25 September 2020. Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  12. ^ Panella, Luigi (14 April 2021). "Ronaldo, l'ossessione viene da un'altra epoca: Josef Bican, il bomber delle tre nazioni" [Ronaldo, the obsession comes from another era: Josef Bican, the bomber of the three nations]. la Repubblica (in Italian). GEDI Gruppo Editoriale. Retrieved 2 July 2021.
  13. ^ "Cristiano Ronaldo: Has the Juventus forward broken world goalscoring record?". BBC Sport. 21 January 2021. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  14. ^ "Ronaldo scores 760th career goal, but is it a world record?". France 24. 21 January 2021. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  15. ^ Cortez, Rodrigo (10 January 2021). "Cristiano Ronaldo marca e iguala o melhor marcador de sempre" [Cristiano Ronaldo scores and equals the best scorer ever]. O Jogo (in Portuguese). Global Media Group. Retrieved 1 July 2021.
  16. ^ Zlámal, Ondřej (4 December 2014). "Meet Europe's most prolific scorer of all time". UEFA. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  17. ^ a b Wilson, Jonathan (2 February 2021). "Filling in the Blanks on (Possibly) the Greatest Goalscorer Ever and the Murkiness of His Total". Sports Illustrated. Authentic Brands Group. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  18. ^ "Cristiano Ronaldo: Czech FA claims Juventus striker has not broken Josef Bican's goalscoring record". Sky Sports. 21 January 2021. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  19. ^ a b c Povejšil, Vojtěch (21 January 2021). "Ronaldo ještě Bicana nepřekonal. Komise tuzemské legendě přepočítala góly" [Ronaldo hasn't beaten Bican yet. The Commission miscalculated the goals for the domestic legend]. iDNES (in Czech). Retrieved 30 June 2021.
  20. ^ "All-time Pichichi: How it stands in Messi-Ronaldo battle to be football's top scorer". Sport. Grupo Zeta. 30 April 2021. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  21. ^ Pecker, David (2 February 2021). "Cristiano reaches the top: Most goals in football history". Marca. Unidad Editorial. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  22. ^ "Cristiano Ronaldo, gigante: alcanzó los 760 gritos y se convirtió en el máximo goleador de la historia del fútbol" [Cristiano Ronaldo, giant: he reached 760 shouts and became the top scorer in the history of football]. Clarín (in Spanish). 20 January 2021. Retrieved 2 July 2021.
  23. ^ "El doblete de Cristiano y la gran controversia sobre su récord histórico de goles" [Cristiano's double and the great controversy over his historical goal record]. El Mundo (in Spanish). Unidad Editorial. 3 February 2021. Retrieved 2 July 2021.
  24. ^ "Josef Bican (Obituary)". The Daily Telegraph. 26 December 2001. Retrieved 1 July 2021.
  25. ^ Bate, Adam (23 October 2020). "Pele at 80: Busting the myths surrounding the Brazilian great". Sky Sports. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  26. ^ Richardson, Andrew Cesare (11 March 2021). "Pele's 1,000+ goals: Why Santos' claims about the G.O.A.T. should be taken seriously". ESPN. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  27. ^ Gallindo, André; Castello Branco, Igor (10 January 2021). "Superado por CR7 e Messi, Pelé tem gols em amistosos apagados e reacende polêmica" [Overcome by CR7 and Messi, Pelé has goals in friendlies erased and rekindles controversy]. Globo Esporte (in Portuguese). Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  28. ^ Miller, Nick (14 July 2015). "The forgotten story of … when Pelé and the Santos circus came to England". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 July 2021.
  29. ^ Liew, Jonathan (3 June 2014). "How and why Pele's mystique and reputation as the world's greatest ever footballer has been overhyped". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 8 July 2021.
  30. ^ "Lionel Messi: Santos deny Barcelona forward broke Pele's goalscoring record". Sky Sports. 28 December 2020. Retrieved 1 July 2021.
  31. ^ "Messi's Barcelona record disputed by Santos: Pele scored 1,091". ESPN. 28 December 2020. Retrieved 2 July 2021.
  32. ^ Fernandez, Gabriel (5 January 2021). "Pele refuses to acknowledge Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi breaking his goal-scoring records". CBS Sports. ViacomCBS. Retrieved 1 July 2021.
  33. ^ Roberts, Mike (23 February 2019). "Messi: Greatest goalscorer ever?". FC Barcelona Official Website. Retrieved 1 July 2021.
  34. ^ "Cristiano Ronaldo becomes top goalscorer in football history". Sky Sports. 21 January 2021. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  35. ^ "Cristiano Ronaldo becomes highest scorer of all time with 760 goals". Diario AS. PRISA. 21 January 2021. Retrieved 28 June 2021.
  36. ^ "Das Phänomen Cristiano Ronaldo: Superstar mit eingebauter Torgarantie" [The phenomenon of Cristiano Ronaldo: Superstar with a built-in goal guarantee]. Deutsche Welle (in German). 22 January 2021. Retrieved 30 June 2021.
  37. ^ Stacul, Luca (18 May 2015). "Pelé e il falso mito dei suoi 1281 gol" [Pelé and the false myth of his 1281 goals]. Eurosport (in Italian). Retrieved 8 September 2021.
  38. ^ Wright, Chris (22 January 2021). "Is Cristiano Ronaldo soccer's all-time top scorer? Or is it Pele? Josef Bican? We may never know for sure". ESPN. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  39. ^ Grez, Matias (3 February 2021). "Debate over greatest goalscorer of all time continues as Cristiano Ronaldo nets 762nd goal". CNN. WarnerMedia. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  40. ^ "Cristiano Ronaldo's 760th goal ignites questions over all-time scoring record". FourFourTwo. Future plc. 21 January 2021. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  41. ^ Matchett, Karl (21 January 2021). "Cristiano Ronaldo becomes all-time leading goalscorer in history of football". The Independent. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  42. ^ Zazzaroni, Ivan (12 December 2020). "Ronaldo davanti a Pelé: vi sveliamo le vere cifre sui gol" [Ronaldo in front of Pele: we reveal the real numbers on goals]. Corriere dello Sport – Stadio (in Italian). Retrieved 30 June 2021.
  43. ^ Bandini, Nicky (15 March 2021). "Ronaldo embraces perfection as he declares himself ahead of Pelé". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  44. ^ a b "Most career goals (football)". Guinness World Records. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  45. ^ "Romario scores '1000th' goal". World Soccer. Kelsey Media. 21 May 2007. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  46. ^ Williams, Marc (24 June 2021). "Top ten highest goalscorers of all time: Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi pass legends as they chase down Josef Bican's goal record". Talksport. Wireless Group. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  47. ^ "CR7 non si ferma: raggiunto Romario a quota 772 gol, davanti resta solo Bican" [CR7 does not stop: Romario reached 772 goals, only Bican remains in front]. La Gazzetta dello Sport (in Italian). RCS MediaGroup. 3 April 2021. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  48. ^ Glo, Pascal (4 March 2021). "Josef Bican, l'homme qui a marqué plus que Pelé et Cristiano Ronaldo" [Josef Bican, the man who scored more than Pelé and Cristiano Ronaldo]. L'Équipe (in French). Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  49. ^ Salvetti, Marina (30 December 2020). "Juve, il 2021 di Ronaldo e la missione CR800: i nuovi record da battere" [Juve, Ronaldo's 2021 and the CR800 mission: the new records to beat]. Tuttosport (in Italian). Retrieved 8 September 2021.
  50. ^ "Ronaldo mag zich mogelijk productiefste speler ooit noemen" [Ronaldo may call himself most prolific player ever]. Voetbal International (in Dutch). 11 January 2021. Retrieved 8 July 2021.
  51. ^ "Pele congratulates Cristiano Ronaldo for breaking his goals record". ESPN. 14 March 2021. Retrieved 8 July 2021.
  52. ^ "Artur Friedenreich - Brazilian athlete". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2 September 2020. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  53. ^ Law, Joshua (18 November 2016). "Remembering Arthur Friedenreich, Brazil's first football superstar". These Football Times. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  54. ^ "Dollars, droughts and a half-millennium". FIFA. 28 April 2017. Retrieved 5 July 2021.
  55. ^ "Cristiano Ronaldo becomes the new All-time World's best goal-scorer!". International Federation of Football History & Statistics. 27 February 2021. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  56. ^ "Pele's goal scoring record beaten today?". International Federation of Football History & Statistics. 27 February 2021. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  57. ^ "Messi new all time record holder!". International Federation of Football History & Statistics. 7 February 2021. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  58. ^ "500 club goals for Ibrahimovic!". International Federation of Football History & Statistics. 7 February 2021. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  59. ^ "502 top-level goals of Lewandowski!". International Federation of Football History & Statistics. 8 May 2021. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  60. ^ "500 goals for Luis Suarez!". International Federation of Football History & Statistics. 22 March 2021. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  61. ^ Zazzaroni, Ivan (4 February 2021). "Ecco perché Cristiano Ronaldo ha già superato Pelé" [That's why Cristiano Ronaldo has already surpassed Pelé]. Corriere dello Sport – Stadio (in Italian). Retrieved 30 June 2021.