• The 10 highest international football goal-scorers of all time

    Siiiii! Who is the highest international goal-scorer of all time? Cristiano Ronaldo has only one man left to beat – and is closing in after a four-goal haul against Lithuania.

    9.= Majed Abdullah, Saudi Arabia (147 caps, 71 goals)

    Abdullah burst onto the scene as a 17-year-old, scoring seven goals in three games against Russia, Bulgaria and Iran in a 1977 junior tournament. He netted twice on his debut for the senior Saudi team, and managed 71 goals in 147 games between 1977 and 1994.

    At the 1984 Olympics he scored against a Brazil side containing a young Dunga; four years later, he helped Saudi Arabia draw with Argentina in the Australia Bicentenary Gold Cup (we all remember that, right?). Later that year, Abdullah rubbed salt into England’s post Euro-1988 wounds (below)…

    9.= Miroslav Klose, Germany (137 caps, 71 goals)

    The beanpole hitman scored on his international debut, headed five goals at the 2002 World Cup (a record for headers) and broke Ronaldo’s tournament record as Germany smashed Brazil 7-1 in his penultimate World Cup match. At the end of his last appearance, he held up the World Cup at his fourth attempt.

    Between 2001 and 2014, Klose scored 71 goals from 137 internationals and netted his 50th goal to kick-start Germany’s 2010 World Cup demolition of England. Their next match, the quarter-final, was his 100th for Germany and Klose scored twice as Die Mannschaft thrashed Argentina 4-0.

    He nearly didn’t play for them at all, though: Klose was born in Poland to German parents and couldn’t speak the language when he first arrived in the country.

    9.= Kinnah Phiri, Malawi (115 caps, 71 goals)

    Records are a little sketchy where Phiri is concerned, but the reliable rsssf.com claims that he plundered 71 in an international career that spanned just over eight years.

    The striker, who later managed Malawai from 2009-13, struck 43 goals in 55 friendlies, including all five in a 5-1 win over Botswana in October 1977. He’ll be best remembered for his efforts in helping Malawi win the 1978 East and Central Africa Challenge (CECAFA) Cup, though, having scored in four of his nation’s six games – including the final.

    8.= Sandor Kocsis, Hungary (68 caps, 75 goals)

    Back in the late-’40s and early-to mid-’50s, playing Hungary must have given defenders nightmares. Even if you kept Ferenc Puskas quiet, you still had to deal with another of the world’s most prolific goalscorers.

    Sandor Kocsis actually had a better goals-to-game ratio than the legendary Puskas – 1.10 per game, which equated to a net-busting 75 goals in 68 internationals. That’s up there with West German great Gerd Muller (who misses out on this list because he only played 62 internationals for his 68 goals and retired from international football aged 28).

    Kocsis scored seven hat-tricks for Hungary, and grabbed four goals in the famous 8-3 destruction of West Germany at the 1954 World Cup. He top-scored in that tournament with 11 goals from five games.

    8.= Bashar Abdullah, Kuwait (133 caps, 75 goals)

    No relation to Majed. Part of the Kuwait team that won two Gulf Cups and reached the semi-finals of the AFC Asian Cup, Bashar scored 75 goals in 133 games between 1996 and 2007.

    In 2000, the Bash (presumably) scored eight times in Kuwait’s 20-0 victory over Bhutan. Four days later, he put five past Nepal, and in the early noughties regularly terrorised the likes of Singapore, Palestine and Uzbekistan. Helpful opposition for a list like this.

    7. Pele, Brazil (92 caps, 77 goals)

    Add the 18 goals Pele scored for Brazil in 21 unofficial games, and he’d be second on this list. In official internationals, Pele scored 77 times in 92 games – and he wasn’t even an out-and-out striker.

    Aged 17, he netted twice in the 1958 World Cup Final against Sweden, after a hat-trick against France in the semis. Pele scored six more international hat-tricks, and in four World Cups played 14 games, scoring 12 and setting up another 10.

    He got Brazil’s 100th World Cup goal with a header in the 1970 final against Italy. Timing is everything.

    6. Hussein Saeed, Iraq (137 caps, 78 goals)

    Saeed is unsurprisingly hailed as Iraq’s greatest player of the century, having scored for fun and racked up a record number of caps for his country.

    The striker, a one-club man who played for Al-Talaba his entire career, enjoyed a particularly prolific 1984 for his country by helping them to the 1984 Gulf Cup of Nations. There, he struck braces against hosts Oman and Kuwait, plus a hat-trick to sink Saudi Arabia.

    He retired in 1990, aged 32, following Iraq’s withdrawal from that year’s Gulf Cup competition… because of the refereeing. The big sulks.

    5. Godfrey Chitalu, Zambia (108 caps, 79 goals)

    Remember in 2012, when everyone thought Lionel Messi had broken Gerd Muller’s record for the number of goals scored in a calendar year? Then along comes the Zambian FA and tells us that one of their guys, Godfrey Chitalu, netted 107 goals in 1972? The same year as Muller scored his 85?

    Yeah, that. Chitalu also scored 79 goals in 108 games for Zambia between 1968 and 1980. His finest hour came at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, where he bagged against Venezuela and the Soviet Union.

    Tragically in April 1993, while managing the national team, Chitalu was killed in a plane crash off the coast of Gabon along with his players and coaching staff.

    4. Kunishige Kamamoto, Japan (84 caps, 80 goals)

    Japan’s first footballing superstar, Kamamoto scored 84 goals in 80 internationals between 1964 and 1977. He was top scorer at the 1968 Mexico Olympics, including a hat-trick against Nigeria and two against France in the quarter-finals.

    Japan came third and had high hopes of qualifying for the 1970 World Cup, but in 1969, Kamamoto was struck down with Hepatitis and in the first round of qualifying his team lost to both Australia and South Korea.

    He returned the following year and soon started banging them in again. His best year was 1972, with 15 goals in eight games. After retiring, he went into politics and football administration.

    3. Ferenc Puskas, Hungary (85 caps, 84 goals)

    Between 1945 and 1956, the ‘Galloping Major’ (Puskas played for Hungarian army club Budapest Honved, and all the players were given military ranks) scored 84 goals in 85 games for Hungary, which included three hat-tricks and four in a 12-0 win against Albania.

    He struck four at the 1952 Olympics where Hungary won gold; then, in 1953 and 1954, the Mighty Magyars beat England 6-3 and 7-1. Puskas scored twice in both games.

    He got three in Hungary’s first two games at the 1954 World Cup before being carried off injured with a hairline fracture in his ankle. Puskas missed two games, came back for the final against West Germany and scored as Hungary’s opponents came back to win after shipping two in the first eight minutes.

    2. Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal (160 caps, 93 goals)

    Slowly but surely, Cristiano has been chipping away at this list. In March 2017 there were 11 men ahead of him after he levelled Stern John’s (!) haul of 70 for Trinidad & Tobago. Now there’s only one, having surpassed Ferenc Puskas during Portugal’s 2018 World Cup tussle with Morocco.

    He’d matched the Hungarian’s lot with a stunning hat-trick goal against Spain in the opening game, salvaging a last-gasp draw for the Seleção. Ron has always been a clutch player for his country, though – most memorably when his second-leg World Cup 2014 play-off hat-trick against Sweden sent Portugal through in a thrilling encounter. Only Robert Lewandowski netted more times in 2018 qualification, and he failed to score in only two games.

    No.1: he’s coming for you…

    1. Ali Daei, Iran (149 caps, 109 goals)

    When Hertha Berlin beat Chelsea 2-1 in a 1999 Champions League group game, it was the most prolific international goalscorer of them all who rose above Frank Leboeuf to head the Germans in front. Iranian striker Ali Daei then robbed the Frenchman inside Chelsea’s half before making it 2-0.

    Between 1993 and 2006, Daei scored 109 goals in 149 internationals. Twice he scored four in a game, against South Korea in the 1996 Asian Cup, then Laos in a qualifier for the 2006 World Cup.

    Daei didn’t fare as well against tougher opposition, and failed to score in the 1998 and 2006 World Cup finals. He did, however, set up the goal that beat the USA in 1998 to give Iran its first – and to date only – World Cup finals victory.

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