Top 20 Highest Goal Scorers in International Football History

Highest Goal Scorers in International Football History: In the big world of soccer, where countries play against each other, some players are good at scoring goals. Three of these amazing players are Ali Daei, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Lionel Messi. They’ve scored more than 100 goals each for their countries. But something is interesting about Daei – most of his goals were against teams that weren’t ranked very high.

Now, think about Ronaldo’s powerful shots and Messi’s fancy footwork. Each goal they score is not just a number; it’s a story of hard work, talent, and a deep love for the game.

This journey we’re taking is about exploring the lives of these goal scorers, not just the numbers they’ve scored but the magic they brought to the world of soccer.

Highest Goal Scorers in International Football History

Get ready to be amazed by stories of determination, rivalries, and incredible achievements as we honor these men who changed the game by being the best at scoring goals for their countries.

1. Cristiano Ronaldo


Cristiano Ronaldo is the highest goal scorer in international football history. His versatile playing style and remarkable achievements, including three English championships and a UEFA Champions League victory with Manchester United, led to a historic transfer to Real Madrid in 2009. While at Real Madrid, Ronaldo became the club’s all-time leading goal scorer and secured four additional Champions League titles. He later played for Juventus Turin, returned to Manchester United in 2021, and joined al-Nassr FC in Saudi Arabia in 2023.

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Ronaldo’s success with Portugal includes captaining the team to victory in the 2016 European Championship and the 2019 Nations League. He holds world records for the most international appearances and goals, European Championship records, and is Portugal’s top player in World Cup appearances.

Ronaldo’s awards are equally impressive, with five World Player of the Year titles, three European Player of the Year titles, and being the only footballer to win championships, top scorer titles, and earn Footballer of the Year honors in England, Spain, and Italy.

He has received the Golden Shoe four times as Europe’s best goal scorer and was honored with a place in the Ballon d’Or Dream Team in 2020. With 183 appearances and 140 goals, Ronaldo is the leading player and goal scorer in the UEFA Champions League, leaving an indelible mark on the world of football.

2. Ali Daei


Ali Daei, the second-highest goal scorer in international football history, captained the Iranian national team from 2000 to 2006 and gained recognition as one of Asia’s greatest footballers. Playing as a striker, he showcased his skills in the German Bundesliga with Arminia Bielefeld, Bayern Munich, and Hertha Berlin. He was particularly known for his heading accuracy and aerial abilities.

His prolific goal-scoring earned him the title of the world’s top international goal scorer with 108 goals, a record that stood until Cristiano Ronaldo surpassed it in 2021. Despite losing the top spot, Daei graciously expressed honor in a post on Instagram, admitting Ronaldo’s remarkable achievement.

Beyond his playing career, Daei served as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 2001 and later contributed to football as a member of the FIFA Football Committee from 2007 to 2013. In 2014, he received recognition by being inducted into the Asian Football Hall of Fame, solidifying his legacy as one of the greatest Iranian footballers.

3. Lionel Messi


Lionel Messi, the third-highest goal scorer in international football history, began his football journey by joining FC Barcelona’s youth academy at the age of 13. Making his professional debut in 2004 at just 17, Messi spent a remarkable 17 years with Barcelona, scoring 474 goals and winning many titles, including four Champions League trophies and ten Spanish Championships. His outstanding goal-scoring skills earned him several individual awards, including the UEFA Golden Boot six times. Due to financial reasons, Messi moved to Paris Saint-Germain in 2021 and later joined Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami in mid-July 2023.

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Messi made his debut for the Argentine national team at 18 and became their record player and top goal scorer. He participated in five World Cups and six Copa Américas, overcoming setbacks and winning the Copa América in 2021 and the World Cup in 2022. Messi holds records as the World Cup’s all-time appearance leader with 26 games and Argentina’s top goal scorer in World Cup history with 13 goals.

He received the Ballon d’Or, awarded to the world’s best player, eight times between 2009 and 2024, making him the record holder for this individual honor. Messi’s achievements also include seven FIFA World Player of the Year awards and being named UEFA Player of the Year twice. In 2020, he was honored with a place in the Ballon d’Or Dream Team.

4. Sunil Chhetri


Sunil Chhetri, India’s football icon, holds the title of the fourth-highest goal scorer in international football. Revered for his goal-scoring abilities, leadership, and link-up play, Chhetri is the all-time top goal scorer and most-capped player for the Indian national team. His career includes stints at Mohun Bagan, JCT, and international play in Major League Soccer with Kansas City Wizards.

Chhetri’s impact goes beyond the field, leading India to victories in the Nehru Cup and SAFF Championship. He also played a crucial role in Bengaluru FC’s impressive run in the AFC Cup in 2016.

Recognized with awards such as the Arjuna Award, Padma Shri, and the prestigious Khel Ratna Award, Chhetri’s 93 international goals mark him as the second-highest Asian goal scorer in international football, trailing only Ali Daei, and placing him third among active players after Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

5. Mokhtar Dahari


Mokhtar Dahari holds the position of the fifth-highest goal scorer in international football history. His professional career began in 1972 with Selangor FA, a Malaysian first-division club, where he played for an impressive 15 years. During this period, he secured 10 Malaysia Cup victories with Selangor and scored a remarkable 177 goals for the club.

Mokhtar concluded his career in May 1986 after clinching the Malaysia Cup for the tenth time, only to briefly return to Selangor for a season.

Throughout 167 games for the Malaysian national football team until 1985, he scored an impressive 142 goals. Regarded as the finest Malaysian footballer ever, Mokhtar earned the 30th spot in the Asian Footballer of the Century vote. Unfortunately, Mokhtar Dahari passed away at the age of 37 due to muscular dystrophy, leaving behind a lasting legacy in Malaysian football.

6. Ali Mabkhout

Country:United Arab Emirates

Ali Mabkhout stands as the sixth-highest goal scorer in international football history, serving as a forward for both Al Jazira in the UAE Pro League and the United Arab Emirates national team. Beginning his journey through the youth system, Mabkhout made his debut for Al Jazira’s first team in 2009.

A significant milestone in his career came on October 10, 2019, when Mabkhout achieved a remarkable feat. He scored a hat-trick against Indonesia in a 5–0 victory, securing his position as the all-time leading goal scorer for the United Arab Emirates.

Mabkhout’s goal-scoring skills have solidified his place among the top international goal-scorers, showcasing his impact on the football stage.

7. Ferenc Puskás


Ferenc Puskás, the seventh-highest goal scorer in international football history, played a crucial role as the captain of the Hungarian national football team from 1950 to 1954. Following the Hungarian popular uprising in 1956, Puskás emigrated and joined Real Madrid in Spain in 1958. After a FIFA ban initiated by the Hungarian Football Association expired, he played a crucial role in Real Madrid’s success, winning the European Cup three times and securing many Spanish championships.

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Puskás later obtained Spanish citizenship and represented Spain at the 1962 World Cup. His playing career concluded at the age of 39, after which he transitioned into coaching, leaving a significant impact on various teams, notably Panathinaikos Athens.

Considered the best Hungarian football player, Puskás is mentioned alongside football legends Cruyff, Beckenbauer, and Di Stéfano. He is credited with establishing the reputation of the number 10 shirt, typically worn by a team’s playmaker. Known for his powerful and precise left-footed shots, Puskás earned recognition as the best goalscorer of the 20th century by the IFFHS. His legacy is further celebrated with the FIFA Puskás Prize, an annual award for the best goal of the season introduced in 2009. Ferenc Puskás passed away on November 17, 2006, leaving an indelible mark on the world of football.

8. Romelu Lukaku


Romelu Lukaku, the eighth-highest goal scorer in international football, is a dominant and physically imposing striker known for his goal-scoring skills. Despite his size and strength, Lukaku’s preferred role is not as a traditional target-man but as an out-and-out striker or poacher, showcasing tactical versatility even as a winger.

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Beginning his senior club career with Anderlecht, he later played for Chelsea, Everton, and Manchester United, and ultimately secured success with Inter Milan, winning a Serie A title and the Most Valuable Player award.

Belgium’s all-time leading goal scorer, Lukaku has represented his country in multiple major tournaments, earning praise as the joint second-highest goal scorer in the 2018 FIFA World Cup. His remarkable goal-scoring abilities were further highlighted during the UEFA Euro 2024 qualifiers, where he set a record with 14 goals in eight appearances.

9. Robert Lewandowski


Robert Lewandowski, the ninth-highest goal scorer in international football, is widely recognized as one of the premier strikers of his generation. His achievements include a rare achievement shared with Johan Cruyff – winning a league, domestic cup, and UEFA Champions League treble while also being the top scorer in all competitions.

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Lewandowski’s exceptional goal-scoring ability is underscored by being named FIFA World Player of the Year in both 2020 and 2021, as well as UEFA Player of the Year in 2020.

In terms of total goals, Lewandowski holds the distinction of being the second-highest goal scorer in Bundesliga history and the third-highest in UEFA Champions League history. Notably, he set a new Bundesliga record in the 2020/21 season with 41 goals, surpassing the legendary Gerd Müller. This achievement earned him the UEFA Golden Boot in September 2021.

Lewandowski has scored 82 goals, making him the third-highest goal scorer in the history of European national teams and the ninth-highest worldwide.

10. Godfrey Chitalu


Godfrey Chitalu, the tenth-highest goal scorer in international football, is consider as the greatest Zambian player of all time. His legacy is marked by holding the national team’s goal-scoring record and being named Zambian Footballer of the Year on five occasions.

In recognition of his outstanding contributions, Chitalu was chosen by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) as one of the best 200 African footballers of the past 50 years in 2006.

A noteworthy claim by the Football Association of Zambia stated that in 1972, Chitalu scored more than 100 goals in all competitions, surpassing the totals of both Gerd Müller and Lionel Messi in the same year. Despite being widely discussed as potential “world records” by journalists, FIFA clarified that they never officially recognized such records for domestic competitions.

After retiring as a player, Chitalu transitioned to coaching and was leading the Zambia national team when tragedy struck – the entire squad perished in a plane crash off the coast of Gabon on April 27, 1993.

11. Neymar


Neymar, the eleventh-highest goal scorer in international football, rose to prominence as a striker at FC Santos before making a high-profile move to FC Barcelona in 2013. During his four years with Barcelona, he secured two Spanish championships and played a key role in winning the Champions League in 2015.

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In August 2017, Neymar set a world record transfer fee of €222 million with his move to Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), where he clinched five French league titles. After six years, he transferred to Al-Hilal in Saudi Arabia.

Since joining the Brazilian national team in 2010, Neymar has become their all-time leading goal scorer. He has participated in three World Cups (2014, 2018, 2022) and three Copa Américas (2011, 2015, 2021), achieving notable success with Brazil, including winning the 2013 Confederations Cup and securing a gold medal in the 2016 Olympics on home soil.

Neymar is known for his dedication to improvement, citing inspiration from football greats like Andrés Iniesta, Xavi, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Wayne Rooney.

12. Hussein Saeed


Hussein Saeed, the twelfth-highest goal scorer in international football, is a former Iraqi football player and served as the chairman of the Iraq Football Association from 2004 to 2011.

Regarded as one of the best Iraqi footballers, he holds the record for the most goals scored for the Iraqi national team, a total of 78 goals.

Additionally, from February 10, 1989, to June 10, 1995, Hussein Saeed held the world record for the most international appearances, ranging from 122 to 126 games during that period.

13. Pele


Pelé, the legendary Brazilian footballer, ranks as the 13th-highest goal scorer in international football and is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the sport’s history.

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Over 17 years with FC Santos, he scored an impressive total of 26 national and international titles, showcasing his dominance in various competitions.

Pelé secured multiple championships, including the Campeonato Paulista state championship, Torneio Rio-São Paulo, Taça Brasil, Copa Libertadores, and the World Cup.

Pelé represented Brazil and claimed three World Cup victories in 1958, 1962, and 1970 – a record unmatched by any other player. He held the title of Brazil’s all-time leading goal scorer for approximately 52 years, with 77 goals in 92 international matches, until Neymar surpassed his mark in September 2023.

Pelé’s prolific goal-scoring record, totaling 1,303 goals in 1,392 games, has been a testament to his extraordinary skill and talent. He received many awards, including South America’s Footballer of the Year, World Player of the Century, and FIFA’s World Footballer of the 20th Century, solidifying his status as an iconic figure in the history of football.

14. Kunishige Kamamoto


Kunishige Kamamoto, the fourteenth-highest goal scorer in international football, achieved prominence as a Japanese footballer. Notably, he secured the bronze medal with the Japan national team at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, emerging as the tournament’s top scorer with seven goals.

Kamamoto holds the distinction of being the all-time leading goal scorer for Japan. Beyond his contributions on the field, he served as the Vice-President of the Japan Football Association from July 1998 to July 2008.

Additionally, Kamamoto was recognized for his impact on Japanese football by being inducted into the Japan Football Hall of Fame in 2005. Beyond his football career, he served as a member of the House of Councillors from 1995 to 2001.

15. Bashar Abdullah


Bashar Abdullah, the fifteenth-highest goal scorer in international football, played a crucial role in the mini-revival of Kuwaiti football between 1996 and 1998.

During this period, he contributed to significant achievements for Kuwait, including winning two Gulf Cups, reaching the semi-finals of the AFC Asian Cup, securing second place in the Arab Cup and Asian Olympics, and participating in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

Abdullah also played a key role in his club, Al-Salmiyah, winning the league three times and the Emir Cup once.

He announced his retirement from professional football on November 26, 2015, marking the end of his career. However, on May 25, 2018, Bashar Abdullah returned to the field to play a testimonial match for Kuwait against Egypt, showcasing his enduring connection to the sport and his appreciation of his contributions to Kuwaiti football.

16. Majed Abdullah

Country:Saudi Arabia

Majed Abdullah, the sixteenth-highest goal scorer in international football, holds the esteemed title of being Saudi Arabia’s all-time leading goal scorer with an impressive of 72 goals in 117 games.

Renowned as the “Arabian Jewel,” Abdullah made significant contributions both at the international and club levels. Throughout his entire twenty-one-year career, he played for Al-Nassr, becoming their record goal scorer with 189 league goals.

As one of the greatest Western Asian strikers, Abdullah’s skills earned him a nomination for IFFHS Asia’s Player of the Century, securing a notable third place. His loyalty to Al-Nassr saw the club rise to dominance in Saudi and Asian football, winning many league and King Cup titles.

Abdullah played a crucial role in Saudi Arabia’s success, particularly in the Asian Cup. He helped secure the title in 1984 and played a key role in the 1988 edition, where Saudi Arabia victory once again. Abdullah retired in 1998, leaving an indelible mark on Saudi Arabian football.

17. Kinnah Phiri


Kinnah Phiri, the seventeenth-highest goal scorer in international football, hails from Blantyre and initiated his football journey with local side Big Bullets.

In 1982, he received a contract offer from UAE club Sharjah SC, but circumstances prevented him from leaving the country. Instead, he moved to Swaziland to play for Manzini Wanderers, marking the conclusion of his playing career.

Phiri played a crucial role in the success of the Malawi national team during the late 1970s, contributing significantly to their victories in the East and Central Africa Challenge Cup. His scoring skills were evident as he netted 71 goals in 115 international games, becoming a key figure for Malawi.

Beyond the international stage, Phiri claimed to have scored over 700 goals in his club career, solidifying his legacy as a prolific goal scorer.

18. Kiatisuk Senamuang


Kiatisuk Senamuang, the eighteenth-highest goal scorer in international football, earned a reputation as one of the best and most popular players in Asia. He was affectionately nicknamed “Zico” in honor of the great Brazilian player Zico, highlighting his exceptional skills, tricks, and dribbling abilities.

Currently, Senamuang serves as the head coach of the Thai first division club FC Chonburi, harboring a significant ambition to guide the Thai national football team to qualify for a World Cup—a dream that eluded him during his playing career.

Despite not experiencing a World Cup as a player, Senamuang now aspires to achieve this milestone as a coach, showcasing his enduring dedication to the sport.

19. Miroslav Klose


Miroslav Klose, the nineteenth-highest goal scorer in international football history, had a notable career as a striker in top European clubs. He played in the Bundesliga with 1. FC Kaiserslautern, SV Werder Bremen, and FC Bayern Munich, and also in Serie A with Lazio Rome.

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Klose achieved domestic success by winning the double twice with FC Bayern and securing the Italian Cup with Lazio Rome.

Klose made a significant impact as the top scorer for the German national team, amassing 71 goals during his tenure from 2001 to 2014. In the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, he clinched the title with the national team and set a historic record as the all-time leading goal scorer in men’s World Cup history with 16 goals, surpassing the Brazilian Ronaldo (15).

Klose is also distinguished as the only player to reach four World Cup semi-finals. Since 2018, he has ventured into coaching, initially with FC Bayern Munich’s youth and as an assistant coach, followed by a stint at the Austrian Bundesliga club SCR Altach. In July 2023, Klose took on a new role as a commentator for Champions League games with Prime Video Italia.

20. Abdul Kadir


Abdul Kadir, the twentieth-highest goal scorer in international football history, made a significant impact as a winger for Indonesia’s national team from 1965 to 1979. Known for his agility and ball-handling skills, Kadir earned the nickname “The Deer” (Indonesian: Kancil).

He holds the records for both appearances and goal-scoring for Indonesia, making 105 ‘A’ appearances (111 overall) by December 2021. This achievement earned him a spot in the FIFA Century Club, making him the sole Indonesian footballer to reach this milestone.

Throughout his career, Kadir played in over 100 international matches and scored more than 70 international goals, including non-‘A’ matches, showcasing his prowess on the field.

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