Is Cristiano Ronaldo the top goalscorer in football history?

Is Ronaldo the top goal scorer in football history? Well, unless you're a fan of Pele or Bican, it would appear so...

Oren Brown
27th January 2021
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Cristiano Ronaldo's 760th career goal puts him at the top of the all-time goalscoring table. Or does it?

Juventus lifted the Supercoppa Italiana for a record 9th time on Wednesday night. However, an individual triumph overshadowed Juve's achievement.

Cristiano Ronaldo stole headlines with his 64th minute match-opener, securing his 760th career goal. By generally accepted counts, this put Ronaldo a goal above the previous all-time top goalscorer in football history: Josef Bican.

The statistic only registers goals scored in official matches for club and country, with friendlies and youth games taken out of the equation. Ronaldo's stat is 100% accurate, but the waters are muddied for other claimants.

The achievement has been contested by multiple sources. Due to the scarcity of accurate statistics in football until the late 20th century, these claims are difficult to verify.

The Czech FA announced that, by their count, Bican had scored 821 goals in official matches. Meanwhile, the RSSSF attributes 805 career goals to Bican. There is some debate over if reserve games are included in these totals, however. Given the lack of consistency throughout the numbers, we may never get a conclusive answer.

A lot of the confusion also comes from sources suggesting that friendly and youth appearances do count. Brazilian legends Romario and Pelé both claim to have surpassed 1,000 career goals. The latter even claims the title of 'Lead Goal Scorer of All Time' in his Instagram bio.

If we are exclusively discussing official appearances, which we are, then Romario and Pelé can most likely be removed from the debate. But the Bican-Ronaldo question remains unanswered.

It seems that unless the Czech FA are disproven, Ronaldo cannot be  decisively crowned football's all-time top scorer.

There is still has time for Ronaldo to surpass Bican's alleged 821 goals and put the record beyond doubt. Though, given that Ronaldo is swiftly approaching his 36th birthday, Bican's ridiculous record could well go unbroken.

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AUTHOR: Oren Brown
English student. @orenajb

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