Publish date:

Cristiano Ronaldo Sets All-Time Men's International Goal Record With Late Heroics for Portugal

It's been quite a week for Cristiano Ronaldo. 

Days after securing his return to Manchester United from Juventus in an abrupt and blockbuster transfer, he now has sole possession of the all-time men's international goal record, scoring his 110th and 111th goals for Portugal in Wednesday's World Cup qualifying match vs. the Republic of Ireland.

Ronaldo had tied Iranian great Ali Daei, at his previously unassailable total of 109, with a pair of penalty kicks against France to close the group stage at Euro 2020 but was made to wait a little while longer to set the record outright after Portugal's ouster at the hands of Belgium in the round of 16.

He set the record on Wednesday in dramatic fashion, scoring on a late header to bring Portugal level with Ireland in the 89th minute and then netting the winner deep into stoppage time. The goals came after he had an earlier penalty saved, with 19-year-old Gavin Bazunu, a Man City goalkeeper on loan at Portsmouth, delaying his historical moment—however briefly—with a top, diving denial.

Ronaldo ripped off his shirt in celebration after the game-winner, holding up his No. 7, but it'll cost him and Portugal in its next game. Due to his previous yellow card from a March qualifier against Serbia, the card he received for stripping down will suspend him for next Tuesday's qualifier at Azerbaijan.

“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," FIFA president Gianni Infantino said in a statement. “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!”

SI Recommends

Of Ronaldo's 111 goals for his country, just 19 have come in friendlies. He has scored 33 in World Cup qualifying and 31 in European Championship qualifying to account for 64 others. He has 14 at the Euros, seven at the World Cup, five in the UEFA Nations League and two at the now-defunct FIFA Confederations Cup. Just 14 have come from the penalty spot, the first of which (goal No. 12 overall) came in the 2006 World Cup against Iran—a match for which Daei was suited up as the opponent.

Ronaldo, who has nine international hat tricks in his 180 caps, has scored the most against Sweden and Lithuania (seven times apiece), while picking on Hungary, Andorra and Luxembourg six times each and tallying against Armenia and Latvia five times each. He added new, high-profile nations to his hit list at the Euros. His goal against Germany in the group stage of the competition was his first ever against Die Mannschaft in five all-time meetings, and his two against France were his first vs. Les Bleus in seven all-time encounters. Wednesday's goals were his first against Ireland. 

Daei offered his congratulations to Ronaldo upon his tying the record, which stood since 2006, saying on Instagram at the time: "I am honoured that this remarkable achievement will belong to Ronaldo—great champion of football and caring humanist who inspires and impacts lives throughout the world."

While he didn't wind up breaking the record at the Euros, he had set other records in the competition. With his appearance vs. Hungary in Portugal's opener, he became the first men's player to appear in five European Championships. With his two goals in that match, he broke a tie with Michel Platini to become the competition's all-time leading scorer, and in doing so he became the first player to score in five European Championships as well. The 36-year-old's five goals in total were tied for the most in the competition along with the Czech Republic's Patrik Schick.

Presuming Portugal qualifies for Qatar 2022, he'll look to score in a fifth straight World Cup, something no player has done in the men's game—only four have ever played in five World Cups. He has tallied seven World Cup goals across the 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018 competitions.

More Soccer Coverage: