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Record goal scorers in football history: Who boasts the highest number of goals scored?

15 May 2024

The most goals in football history: Who holds the record for the most goals scored on the field

Football is one of the most popular and watched games in the world for many reasons. Besides being accessible to anyone with a ball and space to play, it socializes, teaches values, evokes strong emotions, and ultimately creates some of the greatest athletes.

Every fan has their favorite, but it's true that the most admired are often the players who score the most goals. Whether it's the World Cup, the Champions League, the Premier League, or any other major tournament, glory is primarily achieved by those who get the ball behind the goal line.

Football history boasts several significant figures. Let's take a look at who has scored the most goals in the history of football and reminisce about some notable moments.

Players who have scored the most goals in football


Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the exceptional strikers whose shooting mentality has made him the all-time top scorer in football history. This Portuguese forward, playing for the Saudi Arabian club Al-Nassr FC, has dominated the scoring charts for most of the 21st century, breaking one record after another.

His position as the most prolific goal scorer is reinforced by the fact that he has scored a total of 877 goals throughout his career.

In the calendar year 2023, he scored more goals than anyone else, finding the net 52 times for Portugal and Al-Nassr.

Throughout his playing career, he has received several awards. He has been named FIFA's best player three times, won the Ballon d'Or five times, been named the best player in Europe four times, won the Footballer of the Year award fourteen times, and has been the top scorer in various competitions on multiple occasions.

These are just some of the accolades achieved by Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the best strikers on the planet.

Lionel Messi

Argentinian footballer Lionel Messi, known as El Pulga (The Flea), playing for the American club Inter Miami CF, stands closely behind Ronaldo in his achievements. He is equally exceptional in finishing chances as he is in creating them. Throughout his career, he has scored 824 goals and won a World Cup title, received the Ballon d'Or eight times, and won the Golden Boot six times. He has won the Trofeo Pichichi award for the top scorer of the Spanish league a record seven times. In the Barcelona jersey, he has won, among other titles, ten Spanish league titles and four UEFA Champions League triumphs.

In 2022, Messi achieved an award he had long awaited, winning his first World Cup, which took place in Argentina.

Additionally, on May 8, 2023, he became the first person in history to win two Laureus awards in the same year – both individual and team awards.

Josef Bican

Josef Bican, also known as Pepi, was a Czech-Austrian footballer and coach hailed as the best player of the 20th century. He was part of the team that reached the semifinals of the 1934 World Cup. This sprinter-paced forward scored 821 goals in his career, surpassing even the legendary Pelé.

He started his career in Vienna clubs but spent most of his career at Slavia Prague. Although born in Austria, after the 1938 World Cup, he obtained Czech citizenship.

He received several awards, and on September 25, 2013, on the occasion of his 100th birthday, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame of Czech football.


Brazilian footballer Pelé is still regarded by some as the greatest player of all time. And it's no wonder, as he set several unbeatable records during his career. For example, he first appeared in the World Cup at the age of seventeen and immediately became one of the stars of the Brazilian team. After four years, Brazil won the world title again, and in 1970, Pelé became world champion for the third time. Among other things, he contributed the leading goal in the final and was named the best player of the tournament.

Pelé scored 778 goals during his illustrious playing career. Apart from a brief spell at New York Cosmos, Pelé spent his entire career in his homeland, where he won six Brazilian Serie A titles and two Copa Libertadores titles.


Former Brazilian footballer Romário is a legend of professional football. Former Barcelona coach Johan Cruyff described him as a genius in the penalty area. He played for ten clubs, including PSV Eindhoven, Barcelona, Valencia, and CR Vasco da Gama, and scored 755 goals during his career.

During his time at Dutch club PSV, he helped the club to three league titles and KNVB Cups. He then won La Liga with Barcelona in 1994. He later continued his fearless goal-scoring both at home and around the world. Only Neymar, Pelé, and Ronaldo have scored more goals for Brazil than Romário.


Who scored the most goals in the World Cup?

The FIFA World Cup has been going on for almost a century now, so it's no wonder that the list of records and trivia is filled with history. The world's best footballers have been competing in these watched tournaments since 1930. Let's take a look at who scored the most goals in the football championship.

Over the years, in the 22 editions of the tournament so far, 2,720 goals have been scored in 964 matches.

The record for the highest number of goals scored in the FIFA World Cup belongs to the German Miroslav Klose. Between 2002 and 2014, he scored sixteen goals in 24 matches.

Active players who hold the record for the most goals scored:

  • Lionel Messi (Argentina) with thirteen goals,
  • Kylian Mbappé (France) with twelve goals,
  • Thomas Müller (Germany) with ten goals,
  • Harry Kane (England) with eight goals,
  • Neymar (Brazil) with eight goals,
  • Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) with eight goals,
  • Luis Suárez (Uruguay) with 7 goals,
  • Ivan Perišić (Croatia) with 6 goals,
  • James Rodríguez (Colombia) with 6 goals,
  • Enner Valencia (Ecuador) with 6 goals,
  • Edinson Cavani (Uruguay) with 5 goals,
  • Olivier Giroud (France) with 5 goals,
  • Romelu Lukaku (Belgium) with 5 goals,
  • Xherdan Shaqiri (Switzerland) with 5 goals.


Other Records in Number of Goals Scored at the FIFA World Cup

  • The record for the most goals scored in a single FIFA World Cup tournament belongs to the Frenchman Just Fontaine, who managed to score a total of thirteen times in 1958. He played six matches in the tournament and did not participate in any other.
  • Oleg Salenko of Russia achieved a remarkable feat when he scored a total of five goals in one match. This happened at the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the USA, where his contributions led to a 6-1 victory over the Cameroonian team.
  • In 2002, Turkish player Hakan Şükür scored a goal just eleven seconds into the match for the bronze against South Korea, setting the record for the fastest goal and helping his team to a 3-2 victory.
  • The record for the highest number of World Cup titles won has been held for many years by the Brazilian Pelé, who won three championships in 1958, 1962, and 1970.
  • Brazil has won the World Cup title most frequently, finishing first a total of five times in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, and 2002.
  • Germany holds the record for the most medals won at FIFA World Cup tournaments, with their national team winning a total of twelve medals from 1930 to 2018.


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