Ronaldo’s Incredible 30s – CR7’s International Goal Tally For Portugal

Cristiano Ronaldo has always been a divisive figure; ever since breaking through at Sporting and then moving to Manchester United, his tricks, showy style and good looks made him a target. Getting England’s star and his own Man United teammate sent off at Euro 2008 – and then winking about it! – didn’t help much either. But in the latter part of his career, this love-him-or-hate-him notion has become even stronger; his rivalry with Lionel Messi, perceived selfishness and arrogance, and most recently his mega-money move to Saudi Arabia, all made him divide opinion more than ever.

However, there is one thing about CR7 that is beyond debate and can only be admired: his goalscoring record is, quite simply, phenomenal. He has scored over 850 senior goals, which is a truly staggering number when one considers that Pele managed around 760 (his claims to having scored over 1,000 goals are dubious at best), Robert Lewandowski is on 608 at the time of writing and Wayne Rooney, Man United’s record goalscorer who was also England’s number one until recently being surpassed by Harry Kane has “just” 366 to his name.

In this article, however, we are going to disregard the 31 goals and counting Ronnie has notched in Saudi. We don’t care about the 450 in just 438 games he bagged for Real Madrid either. And although it is his senior goals with Portugal that are the focus of our attention here, we don’t even care about the first 50 or so international goals Ronaldo scored. Instead, this article is about what the man from Madeira has achieved with his nation since turning 30.

Ronaldo Scored 71st and 72nd Goals for Portugal Since Turning 30

On Friday the 14th of October 2023, Portugal recorded their seventh straight win in Euro 2024 qualification Group J. It was a hard-fought victory as they saw off second-in-the-group Slovakia 3-2 at home but the game was perhaps most notable for the two goals scored by Portugal’s ageing talisman.

Ronaldo scored a penalty in the 29th minute and what proved to be the winner in the 72nd, his 124th and 125th Portugal strikes respectively. They were also the 71st and 72nd goals for his nation since the former Man United player turned 30 and that is, among all of the incredible stats around the goal-addicted forward, perhaps the most amazing stat.

To add perspective to that claim, consider that the leading international goalscorer for England has, at the time of writing, scored 59 goals. In fact, Ronaldo’s super 72 since his 30th birthday would be enough to make him the top international scorer for Germany, Spain, France, Netherlands, Italy, Uruguay and any of the nations of the British Isles. His total 72 Portugal goals post-30 is more than Zlatan Ibrahimovic managed for Sweden in his whole career (62), more than Didier Drogba scored for Ivory Coast (65) and surpasses the 56 that Samuel Eto’o got for Cameroon.

In fact, only 16 players in the entire history of international football have scored more than 72 goals for their nation. And to reiterate, Ronaldo has 72 since turning 30! Neymar has 79 for Brazil, Romelu Lukaku 78 for Belgium, Robert Lewandowski is on 81 Poland goals and still playing, whilst Lionel Messi is still adding to his 104 strikes for Argentina.

Ronaldo Tops the Pile

But above all of those players, and lesser lights such as Iran’s Ali Daei (108 international goals in 148 games) and Sunil Chhetri of India (93 in 143), sits CR7. No player can match his 125 international goals for Portugal – and who knows how many more he might add?

Moving away from his international career briefly, he has scored 100+ goals in three different decades, the 2010s being his most prolific decade. Only four other players in football’s long history have managed that. His tally of 857 goals in total is more than any other player (according to one stats and research group, an alternative source puts the Madeira native on 856, behind three other – considerably less well-known – players).

Longevity His Most Impressive Trait

Cristiano Ronaldo dos Santos Aveiro will turn 39 on the 5th of February 2024 and considering he made his Sporting bow aged just 17 that is a seriously lengthy career. In 2003 he moved to Man United at the age of just 18 and played at his first Euros final on home soil in 2004. When he takes to the field at Euro 2024 in Germany, that will be his sixth appearance at the tournament! That is just another staggering Ronaldo stat and it should be noted that no other footballer has played in more than four European Championships.

Ronaldo is the leading player in terms of international caps, the only player to have played for his country over 200 times. His 202 Portugal appearances put him ahead of Kuwait’s Bader Al-Mutawa, who made his debut just two weeks after CR7 in 2003 and has 196 caps. In addition, he is second to Sergio Ramos in terms of international wins (122 v 131) but that is a record he will hope to break before he hangs up his boots. If that ever happens!

Somehow, like a fine wine and perhaps like cricket’s Jimmy Anderson, Ronaldo just seems to get better with age. The Anderson comparison is apt: the Lancashire and England bowler is the only player to take over 400 Test wickets since turning 30. Only 16 other players have that many in total and most of those are spin bowlers.

Returning to football’s leading 30 year old, Ronaldo has netted seven goals in six games under new Portugal boss Roberto Martinez. He seems determined to keep setting records too, saying of reaching 1,000 goals “It’s going to be quite difficult, but it’s about seeing how I am mentally, my motivation. If physically my legs treat me as well as I treat them…We’ll see, these are small stages. Until you get to 1,000, you first have to get to 900. I think I’ll get there.” We won’t be backing against him!

Ronaldo’s Portugal Goals by Year

Ronaldo turned 30 on the 5th of February 2015. Below we can see how many goals he has scored for Portugal in each calendar year.

Year Games Goals
2003 2 0
2004 16 7
2005 11 2
2006 14 6
2007 10 5
2008 8 1
2009 7 1
2010 11 3
2011 8 7
2012 13 5
2013 9 10
2014 9 5
2015 5 3
2016 13 13
2017 11 11
2018 7 6
2019 10 14
2020 6 3
2021 14 13
2022 12 3
2023 6 7

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