Last month, soccer great Cristiano Ronaldo reached 700 career goals in a fierce 2-1 loss against Ukraine. Achieving this rare feat is a major milestone for Ronaldo. Only one other active soccer player, Lionel Messi, is anywhere close. But for the 34-year-old five-time Ballon d’Or winner, it’s just one of many moments adding up to a legacy as one of the best of all time.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s path to 700 goals
“Records come naturally, I don’t look for them, records are looking for me,” Ronaldo said in an interview shortly after his penalty shot sealed his historic feat. If records seek players instead of the other way around, then Ronaldo is in high demand.
His path to 700 goals includes topping the UEFA all-time leaderboards with 127 total goals. In international games with Portugal, he’s scored 95 goals so far. This includes another crucial record: seven World Cup goals total, the best of all time. Of those, he scored four in a single World Cup. That last record, he has to share with Messi.
Ronaldo is rarely satisfied with even his most significant achievements. Unless they involve winning. Later in his post-game interview, Ronaldo held himself accountable. “It’s a beautiful moment in my career but it turns out to be bitter because we didn’t win,” he told reporters. He missed several chances at goals in the second half. He pressed hard in stoppage time but was unable to convert.
The top goals of Ronaldo’s career
It’s hard to narrow them down to just three notable goals from the kind of player who managed seven in the World Cup alone. To really get it right, a balance of high-pressure contexts and amazing athleticism is a bare minimum for consideration.
First, Ronaldo’s clutch 2018 World Cup free kick against Spain must be seen. This tied the match 3-3 late, proving to be one of the most important goals of his career.
His next is the goal that Ronaldo personally considers the best he’s ever done. This incredible 2018 bicycle kick goal with Real Madrid was definitely the flashiest move of his long career.
Ronaldo’s very best goal is tough to pin down. But any list absolutely has to include his 2008/09 season Manchester United 40-yard cannon blast. After a 2-2 draw against FC Porto, Ronaldo had something to prove. In the opening minutes, he did just that. It was enough to send his squad to the semi-finals.
Other soccer greats who surpassed 700 goals
Ronaldo does not stand alone in passing 700 career goals. The air around him is about as rarefied as it gets in such a storied sport, however. Only six players total have ever passed this lofty milestone:
- Germany’s Gerd Muller, 735 career goals
- Hungary’s Ferenc Puskas, 746 career goals
- The man who needs no introduction, Brazil’s Pele, 767 career goals
- Romario, also of Brazil, at 772 career goals
- The Czech Republic’s Joef Biscan, with an impossible 805 career goals
Including Ronaldo’s 700, that makes six soccer players. But it might not be long until it’s a club of seven.
Lionel Messi nears 700 goals
Twin failed 2018 World Cup runs revealed cracks in both Ronaldo and his rival Messi’s teams. But individually, they were explosive. Despite this disappointment, Messi shows no signs of slowing down.
It won’t be long until his 672 goals inch toward the 700 club. Most likely, Messi will have higher career totals than Ronaldo despite the raw total goal gap. At 32, Messi is two years younger than his rival for the crown of the best active soccer player. If he stays healthy and productive, an extra two years of play should put him over the top.
Whatever happens in the end, one thing is objectively true for now: Nobody else in the sport today has achieved what Ronaldo has. Yet.