The 20 Players With Most Goals in Football History

Most Goals in Football History: Football, known as a beautiful game, has captured the hearts of billions worldwide with its skill, drama, and intense emotions. But what really excites fans is the ultimate thrill: scoring goals. From powerful strikes to delicate chip shots, putting the ball into the net is what defines victory and makes a player a true legend. Let’s take a journey through time and explore the top goal-scorers in football history.

According to the IFFHS (International Federation of Football History & Statistics), 24 players have scored 500 or more goals in their careers in both club and international football. The first to reach this milestone was Hungarian player Imre Schlosser in 1927. Notable players who achieved this feat at a single club include Lionel Messi, Pele, and Gerd Muller.

FIFA, the international football governing body, has never released an official list of the highest goal scorers. In 2020, they considered Austrian-Czech player Josef Bican as the record holder with an estimated 805 goals. However, there is controversy surrounding Bican’s tally, as it includes goals from reserve teams and unofficial international matches. UEFA ranks Bican as the leading scorer in European top-flight leagues, but different sources provide varying goal counts for him.

Friendly matches also add complexity to goal counts. While some argue that goals from these matches are crucial, others see them as less relevant. This debate affects the goal counts of legendary players Pele and Lionel Messi. When Messi was reported to break the record for most goals for a single club, Pelé’s former club disputed it, claiming that 448 of Pelé’s goals in friendlies were uncounted.

In 2021, Cristiano Ronaldo was reported to break the record with his 760th goal. However, disputes over historical statistics make it challenging to determine the exact record holder. Pelé, Romário, and even Arthur Friedenreich have different reported goal counts, adding to the complexity.

In March 2022, Ronaldo surpassed Bican’s estimated tally of 805 goals. The debate around goal counts continues, highlighting the challenges in defining the all-time top goal scorer in football history.

Players With Most Goals in Football History

In this article, we talk about The 20 Players With the Most Goals in Football History

1. Cristiano Ronaldo

  • Country: Portugal
Career Span2002–present
-League 532
Total 873

Cristiano Ronaldo, widely regarded as one of football’s greatest players, holds the top spot among those with the most goals in history. Currently playing as a forward and captain for Al Nassr in the Saudi Pro League, Ronaldo has scored an impressive list of achievements, including five Ballon d’Or awards and a record three UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Awards.

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With 873 career goals, he has set records in the Champions League, and European Championship, and as Portugal’s all-time leading scorer, showcasing his exceptional talent and longevity in the sport.

Ronaldo’s career has seen him succeed at top clubs such as Sporting CP, Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Juventus before returning to Manchester United in 2021 and later joining Al Nassr in 2023.

Beyond his on-field skills, Ronaldo is known for his marketability and fame, topping Forbes’ list of the world’s highest-paid athletes multiple times and earning a spot as one of Time’s 100 most influential people in 2014. With a legacy that extends beyond the pitch, Ronaldo remains a football icon with an unparalleled goal-scoring record.

2. Lionel Messi

  • Country: Argentina
Career Span2004–present
-League 497
Total 821

Lionel Messi ranked second among the players with the most goals in football history, is a forward and captain for Inter Miami in Major League Soccer and the Argentina national team.

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Widely recognized as one of the greatest players of all time, Messi has earned eight Ballon d’Or awards and six European Golden Shoes. Spending the majority of his professional career with Barcelona until 2021, Messi secured a record 34 trophies, including ten La Liga titles and four UEFA Champions League victories.

Notably, he won the 2021 Copa América and the 2022 FIFA World Cup with Argentina. Messi’s prolific goal-scoring abilities include records for most goals in La Liga, UEFA Champions League, and most international goals by a South American male. His career has seen him score over 800 goals for club and country, holding the record for the most goals by a player for a single club with 672.

Messi led Argentina to several finals, winning the Copa América in 2021 and the FIFA World Cup in 2022, receiving many individual awards. Known for his dribbling skills, Messi draws comparisons to Diego Maradona, and his impact extends beyond the pitch, with endorsements, high earnings, and recognition as one of Time’s most influential people.

3. Pelé

  • Country: Brazil
Career Span1957–1977
-League 604
Total 762

Pelé, ranking third among football’s top goal-scorers, is celebrated as one of the sport’s all-time greats. Known as “O Rei” (The King), he boasts a Guinness World Record for scoring 1,279 goals in 1,363 games, including friendlies.

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Beginning his career with Santos at 15, Pelé went on to join the Brazil national team at 16, winning three FIFA World Cups and becoming the youngest player to claim the title at 17. His versatility and skill allowed him to score with both feet, anticipate opponents, and play a playmaking role.

At the club level, Pelé remains Santos’s all-time leading goalscorer, with 643 goals in 659 games. His electrifying play coined the phrase “The Beautiful Game,” and he achieved global stardom for his spectacular goals.

Pelé was Honored with awards for his on-field brilliance and contributions to the sport, he scored a total of 762 career goals, leaving an indelible legacy in football history.

4. Romário

  • Country: Brazil
Career Span1985–2007
-League 544
Total 755

Ranked fourth among the top goal-scorers in football history is Romário, a prolific striker renowned for his clinical finishing. With a remarkable tally of over 700 goals, he stands out as one of the few players to score at least 100 goals for three different clubs.

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Widely considered one of the greatest players of all time, Romário played a crucial role in Brazil’s 1994 FIFA World Cup victory, earning the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player. He was also named FIFA World Player of the Year in the same year and secured a place in football history by finishing fifth in the FIFA Player of the Century internet poll in 1999.

Romário’s club career saw him shine in various leagues. After starting in Brazil, he moved to PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands in 1988, where he achieved considerable success, winning the Eredivisie title three times and scoring 165 goals in 167 games. He later joined FC Barcelona in 1993, contributing to their La Liga victory in his first season and finishing as the top goalscorer.

Romário showcased his goal-scoring skills with clubs in Rio de Janeiro and also had brief stints in Qatar, the United States, and Australia towards the end of his career. Known for his speed, especially in confined spaces, and his trademark toe-poke finish, Romário left an indelible mark on football.

5. Ferenc Puskás

  • Country: Hungary Spain
Career Span1943–1966
-League 515
Total 724

Ferenc Puskás ranked fifth among the top goal-scorers in football history, is considered as one of the sport’s greatest players and its first international superstar. As a forward and attacking midfielder, Puskás achieved many awards, including scoring 84 goals in 85 international matches for Hungary and leading his nation to the 1954 World Cup final.

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Recognized as the “Galloping Major,” he won three European Cups, ten national championships, and eight individual scoring honors during his brilliant career. Puskás, known for his prolific goal-scoring ability, was named the greatest top-division scorer of the 20th century by the IFFHS in 1995, and he scored a total of 806 goals in 793 official games.

Beginning his career in Hungary, Puskás played for Kispest and Budapest Honvéd, earning the top scorer title in the Hungarian League multiple times. In the 1950s, he captained the Hungary national team, known as the Mighty Magyars.

In 1958, Puskás moved to Spain and played for Real Madrid, winning multiple Pichichi awards and contributing to two European Champions Cup victories. The FIFA Puskás Award, introduced in 2009, honors the player scoring the “most beautiful goal” each year, showcasing his enduring impact on the sport. Puskás scored a total of 624 goals in his remarkable career.

6. Josef Bican

  • Country: Austria Czechoslovakia
Career Span1931–1955
-League 515
Total 722

Ranked sixth among the top goal-scorers in football history is Josef Bican, considered by the RSSSF as one of the most prolific goal-scorers ever, with over 950 goals in 624 matches (not official). Playing for Slavia Prague, he scored 427 goals in 221 games during his 11-year tenure, becoming the club’s all-time top goalscorer.

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Bican started his professional career at Rapid Vienna in 1931, winning four league titles with local rivals Admira Vienna before joining Slavia Prague in 1937. Retiring in 1955, he held the record for the all-time top goalscorer in the Czechoslovak First League with 447 goals.

Known for his tall and powerful stature, technical ability with both feet and impressive speed, Bican left an enduring legacy in football. Following his playing career, he transitioned to coaching and received awards from the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) for his remarkable goal-scoring achievements.

In 2000, he was awarded the “Golden Ball” as the greatest goalscorer of the 20th century, having been the top scorer in his domestic league 12 times. Josef Bican scored a total of 722 goals in his remarkable career.

7. Jimmy Jones

  • Country: Northern Ireland
Career Span1947–1964
-League 332
Total 648

Ranked seventh among the top goal-scorers in football history is Jimmy Jones, renowned as the leading goalscorer in the history of Irish League football, with an impressive total of 647 goals. According to the RSSSF, he is credited with scoring more than 809 goals in official matches, solidifying his status as one of the most prolific goal-scorers of all time.

Jones began his nearly two-decade-long career with Belfast Celtic, facing adversity when a leg injury, inflicted by rival supporters, kept him out of the game for over a year. After his recovery, he returned to the pitch at an intermediate level with Larne, followed by a brief stint with Fulham in English football.

However, it was with Glenavon that Jones made a significant impact, contributing to the club’s most successful period in history. Throughout his career, he also represented Portadown, Bangor, and Newry Town, earning three caps for Northern Ireland and scoring one goal for the national team. Jimmy Jones concluded his remarkable career with a total of 648 goals.

8. Gerd Müller

  • Country: West Germany
Career Span1964–1981
-League 405
Total 634

Ranked eighth among the top goal-scorers in football history is Gerd Müller, a prolific striker celebrated as one of the greatest goalscorers in the sport’s history. Known as the “Bomber der Nation” (“the nation’s Bomber”) Müller achieved success at both the club and international levels, making him one of the nine players to have won the FIFA World Cup, the UEFA Champions League, and the Ballon d’Or.

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Müller’s remarkable goal-scoring skills were evident in his international career with West Germany, where he scored an impressive 68 goals in 62 appearances. At the club level, during his 15-year tenure with Bayern Munich, Müller etched his name into the record books as the all-time leading goalscorer in the Bundesliga, with 365 goals in 427 matches.

He also excelled in European club competitions, scoring 65 goals in 74 matches. Nicknamed “Der Bomber,” Müller earned the title of European Footballer of the Year in 1970 and received the Golden Boot as the top goalscorer at the 1970 FIFA World Cup. Throughout his career, Müller scored a total of 634 goals.

9. Joe Bambrick

  • Country: Northern Ireland
Career Span1926–1943
-League 348
Total 629

Ranked ninth among the top goal-scorers in football history is Joe Bambrick. Known for his prolific goal-scoring ability, Bambrick was a former gas worker of medium build who made a significant impact in both the Irish League and the Football League.

His athleticism and knack for finding scoring positions earned him recognition, and the catchphrase “Head, heel, or toe, slip it to Joe” with his goal-scoring skills.

Throughout his career, Joe Bambrick scored a total of 629 goals, solidifying his legacy as one of the top goal-scorers in football history.

10. Abe Lenstra

  • Country: Netherlands
Career Span1937–1960
-League 573
Total 624

Ranked tenth among the top goal-scorers in football history is Abe Lenstra. A Dutch footballer and a national icon in the 1950s, Lenstra played as a forward and is considered one of the greatest players ever to come from the Netherlands.

His impact extended beyond national borders, earning him recognition as a Frisian legend, particularly with the club where he rose to prominence as a football player, Heerenveen.

Throughout his career, Abe Lenstra showcased his goal-scoring skills, amassing a total of 624 goals. His contributions to Dutch football and his local club, Heerenveen, cemented his legacy as one of the iconic figures in the history of the sport.

11. Eusébio

  • Country: Portugal
Career Span1957–1978
-League 422
Total 619

Eusébio, nicknamed the “Black Panther” and “O Rei” (“The King”), is ranked 11th among the Players With Most Goals in Football History. The Portuguese striker played a crucial role for Benfica, earning recognition as one of the greatest players of all time.

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Known for his speed, technique, and powerful right-footed shot, Eusébio was a prolific goal-scorer, scoring a total of 619 goals in 745 matches.

His career included helping Portugal reach third place in the 1966 FIFA World Cup, where he emerged as the tournament’s top scorer with nine goals.

Eusébio became an ambassador for football until his passing, leaving an indelible mark on the sport’s history.

12. Robert Lewandowski

  • Country: Poland
Career Span2008–present
-League 375
Total 615

Ranked 12th among the Players With Most Goals in Football History is Robert Lewandowski. Widely regarded as one of the best strikers in the sport’s history, he has scored over 600 career goals for both club and country. Starting in the lower tiers of Polish football, Lewandowski’s journey includes successful stints with Lech Poznań and Borussia Dortmund, where he won two consecutive Bundesliga titles and the league’s top goalscorer award.

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A historic move to Bayern Munich in 2014 saw him play a crucial role in securing multiple Bundesliga titles and the UEFA Champions League in the 2019–20 season. His recent venture with La Liga club Barcelona has also been marked by success, including winning the Supercopa de España, La Liga title, and the Pichichi Trophy in his debut season.

Lewandowski has been a key figure for the Polish national team since 2008, earning 145 caps and participating in UEFA European Championships and FIFA World Cups. With 82 international goals, he stands as Poland’s all-time leading scorer and the third-highest men’s international goalscorer in Europe.

Known for his exceptional goal-scoring prowess, Lewandowski has received numerous prestigious awards, including the Best FIFA Men’s Player, UEFA Men’s Player of the Year, and European Golden Shoe. His remarkable career has left an enduring impact on the world of football, with a total of 615 career goals to his name.

13. Glenn Ferguson

  • Country: Northern Ireland
Career Span1987–2011
-League 313
Total 563

Ranked 13th among the Players With Most Goals in Football History is Glenn Ferguson. Known for his prolific scoring, Ferguson scored over 1,000 domestic appearances during a 24-year career with clubs Ards, Glenavon, Linfield, and Lisburn Distillery.

His goal tally of 563 places him second on the list of all-time goalscorers in Northern Irish football, just behind Jimmy Jones (648). Throughout his career, Ferguson won an impressive 31 winner’s medals and earned 5 caps while playing for Northern Ireland.

After retiring as a player, he ventured into management, enjoying a successful five-year spell with Ballymena United, securing two County Antrim Shield victories.

14. Zlatan Ibrahimović

  • Country: Sweden
Career Span1999–2023
-League 394
Total 561

Ranked 14th among the Players With Most Goals in Football History is Zlatan Ibrahimović. Widely recognized for his acrobatic strikes, technical skills, and physical dominance, Ibrahimović is considered one of the greatest strikers in football history.

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Over his career, he has secured 34 trophies, including league titles in various countries. With a goal tally exceeding 570, encompassing more than 500 club goals, Ibrahimović has displayed scoring skills across four decades. His journey spanned top clubs Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United, and LA Galaxy.

The Swedish football icon, who won the FIFA Puskás Award in 2013 for a stunning bicycle kick, has made over 100 appearances for the national team and holds the record as Sweden’s all-time leading goalscorer with 62 goals.

15. Luis Suárez

  • Country: 2005–present
Career SpanUruguay
-League 388
Total 557

Ranked 15th among the Players With Most Goals in Football History is Luis Suárez. Known as “El Pistolero” (“The Gunman”), Suárez is celebrated as one of the premier strikers of his generation. Playing for notable clubs Groningen, Ajax, Liverpool, Barcelona, and Atlético Madrid, Suárez has scored over 500 career goals for both club and country.

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His prolific goal-scoring exploits include winning two European Golden Shoes and achieving individual honors the Eredivisie Golden Boot, Premier League Golden Boot, and a Pichichi Trophy.

As part of Barcelona’s formidable MSN trio with Lionel Messi and Neymar, Suárez secured the treble of La Liga, Copa del Rey, and the UEFA Champions League in his debut season. At the international level, he is Uruguay’s all-time leading goalscorer, having represented his nation in multiple FIFA World Cups and Copa América tournaments.

16. Fernando Peyroteo

  • Country: Portugal
Career Span1937–1949
-League 464
Total 553

Ranked 16th among the Players With Most Goals in Football History is Fernando Peyroteo. Born on March 10, 1918, Peyroteo was a prolific Portuguese striker renowned for his goal-scoring skills.

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He dedicated his entire professional career to Sporting CP, amassing an impressive total of 544 goals across various competitions. During his tenure, Peyroteo secured 11 major titles and clinched the top-division scorer title in Portugal six times.

His remarkable goal-scoring feats have solidified his legacy as one of the notable figures in Sporting CP’s history.

17. Uwe Seeler

  • Country: West Germany
Career Span1954–1972
-League 447
Total 552

Ranked 17th among the Players With Most Goals in Football History is Uwe Seeler. Regarded as one of the greatest players in German football history, Seeler made a significant impact as a prolific striker for Hamburger SV.

With an impressive career that included 72 appearances for the West Germany national team, he solidified his place in football history.

Pelé recognized his contributions by naming him one of FIFA’s 100 greatest living players in 2004.

Notably, Seeler was the first football player to receive the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.

18. Jimmy McGrory

  • Country: Scotland
Career Span1922–1937
-League 409
Total 552

Ranked 18th among the Players With Most Goals in Football History is Jimmy McGrory. A legendary figure in Celtic’s history, McGrory holds the remarkable title of being the all-time leading goalscorer in top-flight British football, with an impressive total of 550 goals in 547 competitive first-team games at both club and international levels.

During his 15-year tenure with Celtic from 1922 to 1937, McGrory became the club’s top scorer of all time, netting 522 goals from 501 games. He set records for the most goals in a season, with 62 goals in the 1927–28 season, and achieved a British top-flight record of 55 hat-tricks, including 48 in League games and 7 in Scottish Cup ties.

Despite his modest height of five feet and six inches, McGrory was renowned for his incredible header ability, often executing almost horizontal bullet headers, earning him the nicknames “the Human Torpedo” and “the Mermaid.”

19. Alfredo Di Stéfano

  • Country: Argentina Spain
Career Span1945–1966
-League 376
Total 530

Ranked 19th among the Players With Most Goals in Football History is Alfredo Di Stéfano. Widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time and nicknamed “Saeta Rubia” (“Blond Arrow”), Di Stéfano achieved legendary status through his remarkable contributions to Real Madrid’s domination of the European Cup and La Liga during the 1950s and 1960s.

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Playing a crucial role in all five of Real Madrid’s European Cup victories, he scored goals in each of the five finals, forming a successful partnership with Ferenc Puskás. Di Stéfano’s goal-scoring skills were evident as he scored 216 league goals in 282 games for Real Madrid, a club record at the time.

His outstanding achievements earned him the Ballon d’Or for the European Footballer of the Year in 1957 and 1959. Di Stéfano scored 530 goals in his illustrious career, leaving an indelible mark on the history of football.

20. György Sárosi

  • Country: Hungary
Career Span1930–1948
-League 351
Total 517

Ranked 20th among the Players With Most Goals in Football History is György Sárosi. A versatile and complete footballer, Sárosi played for Ferencváros and the Hungary national team during the pre-war era, contributing significantly to his teams’ successes. Known for his technique and adaptability, he won five Hungarian league titles with Ferencváros between 1932 and 1941.

Most Goals in Football History

Sárosi’s notable achievements include representing Hungary in the 1934 and 1938 FIFA World Cups, where he showcased his goal-scoring prowess. As the captain of Hungary in the 1938 World Cup, he scored five goals in the tournament, including one in the final.

Despite his efforts, Hungary finished as runners-up to Italy. Sárosi received recognition as the third-highest goal-scorer of the tournament and later earned the 60th position in the IFFHS Century Elections for the European Player of the Century.

With 42 goals from 62 appearances, he ranks fifth in the all-time top goal-scorers list for the Hungary national team. After retiring as a player, Sárosi ventured into coaching, managing clubs such as Genoa, Juventus, Bari, Roma, and Lugano. He passed away in 1993 at the age of 80, leaving behind a legacy of excellence in football. Sárosi scored 517 goals in his career.

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