Is Cristiano Ronaldo soccer’s all-time prime scorer? Or is it Pele? Josef Bican? We might by no means know for positive

Is Cristiano Ronaldo soccer’s all-time prime scorer? Or is it Pele? Josef Bican? We might by no means know for positive

Cristiano Ronaldo has grown accustomed to breaking one goal-scoring file after one other, however the newest milestone would possibly simply be an important of his profession.

By scoring in opposition to Napoli in a 2-Zero win within the Italian Supercup on Wednesday, Ronaldo scored the 760th objective of his skilled profession and, subsequently, apparently handed the reported tally achieved by Austrian-born Czech striker Josef Bican (759*).

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On Jan. 4 it was reported that Ronaldo’s two goals against Udinese saw him pass Brazil legend Pele (757*), arguably the greatest goal scorer of all-time, and took him to within one strike of the top. However, there’s still an air of uncertainty as to whether Ronaldo is now indeed the new all-time record holder. And is Pele’s number actually 767? Or 1,283?

Ronaldo’s individual tally isn’t in question as all of his goals are official and accounted for — most of them have been televised or, at the very least, reliably catalogued. The Portuguese forward scored five goals for Sporting CP at the very start of his professional career, 118 for Manchester United, 450 for Real Madrid, 85 for Juventus and 102 at international level, giving him 760 in total.

But the individual tallies* belonging to the other players in the upper echelons of the list are very much open to question. For example, the Czech Football Association claim that Bican, a prolific Slavia Prague legend of the 1930s and 1940s, actually scored a total of 821 goals between 1931 and 1955.

Attributable to an absence of dependable data and scant data from that interval, it is troublesome to precisely confirm simply what number of objectives Bican rattled away throughout his lively taking part in profession. The Czech Football Affiliation’s determine has a quite extra definitive ring to it than the considerably obscure tally of “not less than 805” listed by each FIFA and the Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Basis (RSSSF), the net database of historic soccer statistics that is used as a basic information by a number of mainstream sports activities media shops, together with Football4cast.

Elsewhere, Wikipedia lists Bican as having scored 823 profession objectives general — a tally they arrived at by melding data from the Czech FA and RSSSF. Bican’s total can also be typically cited as 759 by all kinds of different broadcasters and media shops, however there does not look like a definitive supply supplied for that quantity, which merely serves to focus on the questionable nature of the stats concerned.

Josef Bican holds prime spot in all-time objectives, in response to some data. Getty

Why do the totals differ?

Simply as with Bican, the identical points at all times come up when discussing and dissecting the precise quantity of objectives scored by Pele. Whereas the variety of “official” objectives scored by the three-time World Cup winner is clocked at 767 (extra on that beneath), Pele’s exact objective depend continues to be the topic of ongoing dispute. The previous Santos and New York Cosmos striker’s tally varies wildly, relying on which supply you select to seek the advice of and which objectives depend.

Pele himself would have us consider he scored a total of 1,283 objectives. The Brazil legend denied studies that he altered his Instagram bio to incorporate “Main Objective Scorer of All Time (1,283)” to “overshadow” Lionel Messi and Ronaldo usurping his data, tweeting on Jan. 6: “I used to be accused by the press of getting modified my Instagram bio to overshadow these massive stars which are breaking my data. The bio textual content has at all times been the identical since I joined the platform. None of this could distract us out of your unimaginable achievements.”

In the meantime, each FIFA and South American football confederation CONMEBOL have acknowledged that Pele’s profession statistics stand at 1,281 objectives in 1,363 video games.

Nonetheless, FIFA have revised that, and generalise Pele’s tally as merely “greater than 1,200 objectives.” It is because each Pele’s private tally and FIFA’s numbers embrace objectives scored throughout youth matches, friendlies and exhibition video games — none of that are counted as a part of any up to date participant’s official objectives total.

So far as the oldsters over at Guinness World Data are involved, Pele’s tally stands at 1,279 objectives in 1,363 video games and so they affirm that because the world file. The explanation for the depend being two objectives fewer than FIFA’s tally is that they refuse to acknowledge the 2 objectives Pele scored in “particular appearances” for Santos after formally ending his taking part in profession at New York Cosmos in 1977.

RSSSF has a special tally solely. Pele is listed there as having scored 767 “official” objectives in 831 video games, which is boosted as much as 1,284 objectives in 1,375 appearances when pleasant matches are added into the combo. The latter depend features a handful of objectives scored after his retirement, coming in miscellaneous “all-star” and “profit” video games between 1977 and 1990.

Given the character of information being collected within the pre-digital age, it is onerous to know which determine is 100% dependable.

Pele’s objectives total contains many scored in junior competitors. Artwork Rickerby/Time & Life Photos/Getty Pictures

Why 767 for Pele?

After analyzing the numbers, Football4cast’s Stats & Data Group has settled on 767 objectives as probably the most correct determine for Pele’s official profession total. That’s the variety of “official” objectives he scored for Santos (643) and New York Cosmos (37) in home league and cup competitions in addition to continental tournaments, plus the 77 scored for his nationwide aspect, thus stripping away the disputed objectives included by different sources at youth, newbie and non-competitive ranges. However there’s nonetheless one other 10 to seek out.

The RSSSF total contains the one objective scored throughout three appearances for a “army team” (certainly they do not imply within the 1981 film “Escape to Victory”?) and 9 objectives in 13 video games for a “Sao Paolo Choice” between 1959 and 1962, all whereas he was taking part in for Santos. And, given the extent of element in RSSSF’s analysis, Football4cast’s Stats & Data Group is utilizing that as its information for Pele’s profession total, whereas acknowledging that these figures stay unconfirmed.


Vasco da Gama followers are positive that Romario scored 1,000 objectives. ANTONIO SCORZA/AFP by way of Getty Pictures

RSSSF credit former Barcelona and Flamengo striker Romario with 772 “official” objectives, whereas different sources say 743.

The person himself is famed for his boasts of getting racked up a “private total” of greater than 1,000 objectives in his profession. He even employed a analysis team to return and depend his haul, main him to attain what he believed to his “1,000th” from the penalty spot whereas taking part in for Vasco da Gama in 2007, aged 41.

The objective was scored within the 48th minute and the sport restarted 20 minutes later; such had been the celebrations on the Sao Januario stadium as jubilant followers ran onto the pitch to hug and congratulate their hero. Romario was then offered with a particular customised shirt by Vasco membership president Eurico Miranda (together with his identify and the #1,000 on the again) and allowed to finish a lap of honour earlier than the sport lastly obtained underneath means once more.

“It is a fantastic pleasure to achieve this goal, which just one different participant has managed,” he stated on the time, referring to Pele.

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Sadly, regardless of all of the pomp and romance, Romario’s total continues to be very a lot disputed from an official standpoint, largely as a result of his researchers counted objectives scored in junior matches, friendlies and varied different non-official and exhibition matches. Although it did not cease FIFA from congratulating Romario on reaching his milestone, regardless of in the exact same breath refusing to acknowledge not less than 98 of the objectives the Brazilian was together with in his total.

Usually talking, Romario is credited with scoring 745 “official” objectives in full aggressive video games — a way in need of his personal depend. Nonetheless, strive telling Brazilians that Pele (and Romario) have not scored 1,000 objectives.

Whatever the exact numbers concerned, the reverence, love and respect that Pele receives from football followers in Brazil and past is just not up for debate. They name him “O Rei” (“The King”), and that is precisely the way it will at all times keep. The person received three World Cups — scoring 12 objectives in 14 finals appearances — with the Selecao, in any case.

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Pele scored what is taken into account by many to be the 1,000th objective of his profession in 1969, on the age of simply 29. It got here from the penalty spot whereas taking part in for Santos in opposition to Vasco da Gama, in entrance of 80,000 feverishly expectant followers crammed contained in the well-known Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro. Discussing “O Milesimo” (“The Thousandth”) in an interview with Football4cast final 12 months, Pele described the objective as a “present from God” — although he additionally admitted he’d have most popular the milestone strike to have been extra spectacular.

“With all respect to the penalty, if I might select, I might quite it have are available a nicer means — possibly from a volley or a phenomenal header,” he stated. “That stated, it is typically a lot tougher to attain a penalty than a traditional objective. I do know what I went by. My legs had been shaking. The entire Maracana was asking me to attain and I believed ‘Oh my god, I am unable to miss!’ Many individuals say it was solely a penalty, however for me it was the toughest objective.”

As odd because it sounds, Pele wasn’t really Santos’ standard penalty taker. Simply think about what number of extra objectives he’d have scored throughout his profession if he’d been taking pot photographs from 12 yards, too.


It is obvious that we might by no means know for positive precisely when or if Cristiano Ronaldo will grow to be the all-time prime goal-scorer, or if he has carried out so already. The previous data are so unreliable that it makes making an attempt to completely ratify historic objective tallies a largely fruitless activity.

Nonetheless, we will — as modern-day football followers — not less than place inventory within the irrefutable incontrovertible fact that we’re afforded the chance to observe certainly one of biggest objective scorers of all-time play each single week.

That is a uncommon and valuable honour, one we should always cherish whereas we nonetheless can. Although the controversy will fire up as soon as once more as quickly as Ronaldo hits 768. Or 822. Or possibly even 1,284.

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