Who has scored the most goals in international football? Lionel Messi chasing Cristiano Ronaldo all-time record


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Cristiano Ronaldo might be out playing in Saudi Arabia right now, but he’s still racking up records. 

The 38-year-old, set the record for most international appearances in the history of men’s football as he closes in on 200 appearances.

He doesn’t only hold the record for the most games played for a male player, but he also has the most goals all-time, racking up another two during the March 2023 international window.

Argentina and PSG star Lionel Messi, who’s three years younger, can potentially still catch Ronaldo for both records if he continues to play through the 2026 World Cup.

The Sporting News is regularly updating the rankings for most international goals in the history of men’s football below. 

MORE: Messi & Ronaldo: Destination Mundial

Who has scored the most goals in men’s international football?

Cristiano Ronaldo holds the record for the most goals scored in men’s international football. The Manchester United and Portugal star has 122 goals in 198 senior appearances for his country.

Ronaldo broke the long-standing goal record held by Iran’s Ali Daei when he scored twice against the Republic of Ireland in September 2021.

Those two remain the only men’s players who have reached a century of international goals, although Messi needs only one more to join them in that group.

Getty Images

Most international goals: Men’s all-time top 10

Table below is updated as of March 25, 2023.

*Denotes active player

  Player Country Goals Caps Years active
1. Cristiano Ronaldo* Portugal 122 198 2003 —
2. Ali Daei Iran 109 148 1993-2006
3. Lionel Messi* Argentina 99 173 2005 —
4. Mokhtar Dahari Malaysia 89 142 1972-1985
5. Ferenc Puskas Hungary 84 89 1945-1956
= Sunil Chhetri* India 84 131 2005 —
7. Ali Mabkhout* UAE 80 105 2009 —
8. Godfrey Chitalu Zambia 79 111 1968-1980
9. Hussein Saeed Iraq 78 137 1976-1990
10. Pele Brazil 77 92 1957-1971

Who has scored the most goals in women’s international football?

Even if Ronaldo and Messi continue to play well into their 40s, it is almost impossible for them to catch the goal tallies of the leading women’s international goalscorers.

The top-scoring player in women’s international football — and, indeed, overall — is Canada’s Christine Sinclair, who has managed a staggering 190 goals in 322 appearances in 23 years.

Christine Sinclair - Canada - Olympic gold

She is six goals ahead of USWNT great Abby Wambach, who retired back in 2015. The top 10 is dominated by USA stars, who make up half of the list, although all but Alex Morgan have retired.

The other active player closest to Sinclair’s record is Jordan’s Maysa Jbarah, who boasts a remarkable goal-per-game rate having scored 113 times in just 110 international matches.

MORE: Cristiano Ronaldo goal scoring record: List of all-time top scorers

Most international goals: Women’s all-time top 10

Table updated as of March 25, 2023.

*Denotes active player

  Player Country Goals Caps Years active
1. Christine Sinclair* Canada 190 322 2000 —
2. Abby Wambach USA 184 256 2001-2015
3. Mia Hamm USA 158 275 1987-2004
4. Carli Lloyd USA 134 316 2005-2021
5. Kristine Lilly USA 130 352 1987-2010
6. Birgit Prinz Germany 128 214 1994-2011
7. Alex Morgan* USA 121 201 2010 —
8. Julie Fleeting Scotland 116 121 1996-2011
9. Marta* Brazil 115 172 2002 —
10. Maysa Jbarah* Jordan 113 110 2005 —

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