ITAHARI: SEPT. 2 – Cristiano Ronaldo is the outright record scorer in men’s international history. The 36-year-old hit two late goals against the Republic of Ireland to turn defeat into victory in FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifying and leap on to 111 goals for Portugal, two more than IR Iran legend Ali Daei, whose record had stood for 15 years.
“This achievement rewards an outstanding career of almost two decades representing your country at the highest level, which speaks of your tremendous commitment and dedication to your art and your incredible passion for football,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
“In the process of breaking the record for the number of goals in men’s international football, you have become not only a national hero but an international icon and a role model for aspiring players all around the world. Your skills and consistent drive for improvement deserves global acclaim and admiration. Parabéns, Cristiano!”
💥 He's done it!
🇵🇹 @Cristiano (110)
🇮🇷 Ali Daei (109)
🔥 A phenomenal run of 49 goals in his last 47 Portugal appearances makes the monster from Madeira the outright leading scorer in men's international history. Take a bow, legend 🙇♂️ pic.twitter.com/WFO7XbuKr8
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) September 1, 2021
To celebrate CR7’s incredible achievement, FIFA.com has picked out the seven most magical moments of his international career.
On 20 August 2003, Portugal were being held at home by Kazakhstan. Luiz Felipe Scolari decided to give an 18-year-old Cristiano his debut at the start of the second half and brought him on for none other than the legendary Luis Figo. With the No16 on his back, the youngster – who had recently signed for Manchester United – put in an incredible performance and was chosen as Man of the Match in a 1-0 win.
#OnThisDay in 2003 an 18-year-old starlet made his @selecaoportugal debut. Everyone was dazzled by his breathtaking skills Kazakhstan, but nobody could have imagined the extraordinary chapter @Cristiano would write in world football history
🔙 #OnThisDay in 2003 an 18-year-old starlet made his @selecaoportugal debut. Everyone was dazzled by his breathtaking skills 🆚 Kazakhstan, but nobody could have imagined the extraordinary chapter @Cristiano would write in world football history 📕 pic.twitter.com/9FnovNIGrb
— FIFA.com (@FIFAcom) August 20, 2020
— FIFA.com (@FIFAcom) August 20, 2020
First goal, mixed feelings
At the opening match of UEFA EURO 2004 in Portugal, the tournament began as it would ultimately end for the host nation – with defeat against Greece. They were already a goal adrift when Ronaldo came on after the break and got a little carried away, bringing down Yourkas Seitaridis inside the area. Greece, who would go on to win the whole thing, converted the penalty, doubled their lead and won the match 2-1 despite Ronaldo rising highest to meet a corner in injury time and score his first goal in red and green, in a style that would become one of his trademarks.
With the No7 now on his jersey, Ronaldo went to his first-ever World Cup as the first choice on the right-wing, having racked up seven goals in 12 qualifiers. He opened his account on the biggest of stages with a penalty in Portugal’s second group game against IR Iran, which they won 2-0. Despite his team making it all the way to the semi-finals before being stopped by France, this would be Ronaldo’s only goal in the competition.
Despite enjoying an incredible first season with Real Madrid, Ronaldo went to South Africa in 2010 in the captain’s armband but beset by doubts, having not scored for his country in 16 months. “Goals are like ketchup – when they come, they come all at once,” he said at a pre-tournament press conference. Portugal got their campaign underway with a goalless draw against Côte d’Ivoire before Ronaldo managed to turn things around six days later, scoring one and setting up another in a 7-0 win over Korea DPR.
After a stuttering qualifying campaign, Portugal found themselves up against Sweden in the play-offs in their bid for a berth at Brazil 2014. Having already scored the winner in the first leg (1-0), Ronaldo outshone Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s two-goal haul with an incredible hat-trick that saw Portugal through to their sixth World Cup. As a side note, it also took him past Pauleta’s record of 47 goals for Portugal.
After getting EURO 2016 off to a slow start, Portugal began to come into form, thanks in no small part to Ronaldo’s commitment and efficiency, which took his team all the way to the final. He was particularly impressive in the 2-0 semi-final win over Wales, where he picked up another Man-of-the-Match award after outdoing his Real team-mate Gareth Bale by scoring one of the goals and assisting on the other. In the final against France, he was forced off early after a clash with Dimitri Payet but was an active presence on the sidelines to urge on his team as they eventually emerged victorious, courtesy of an Eder goal in extra time.
Ronaldo has scored no fewer than nine hat-tricks for Portugal thus far, with the most memorable coming on 15 June 2018 at the Fisht Olympic Stadium in a 3-3 draw with Spain. He won and converted a penalty to open the scoring, fired in a long-range effort with his left foot for his second and then equalised late on with a stunning free-kick. Cometh the hour, cometh the Portuguese Superman to make sure that it was honours even in what is always a hotly disputed derby. Ronaldo also became the first player in history to score in eight consecutive major international tournaments, and the fourth to score in four different World Cups after Miroslav Klose, Uwe Seeler and Pele.