Cristiano Ronaldo’s 760th goal ignites questions over all-time scoring record

Cristiano Ronaldo may or may not have become the record goalscorer in football history on Wednesday night – depending on who you listen to.

They say records are there to be broken but when it comes to the greatest ever scorers, it seems the goalposts can move.

Ronaldo scored his 760th goal for club or country as he helped Juventus lift the Italian Super Cup with a 2-0 win over Napoli.

It was his 85th Juve goal, added to five for Sporting Lisbon, 118 for Manchester United, 450 for Real Madrid and 102 for Portugal.

And it put him clear of Josef Bican’s tally of 759. Unless you instead believe the Czech-Austrian forward, whose clubs included Rapid Vienna and Slavia Prague, actually scored 805 goals between 1931 and 1955.

That is the total credited to him by the Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation (RSSSF), though it includes 27 goals scored for Rapid’s reserve teams, as well as some unofficial internationals.

The RSSSF also credits two Brazilian greats with higher tallies than Ronaldo – putting Romario on 772 and Pele on 767.

But here the waters become even murkier. Both Brazilians claims to have bagged more than 1,000 goals apiece.

Soccer Aid 2016 – Manchester
Soccer Aid 2016 – Manchester

Romario marked his 1,000th strike in 2007, but the total counts a number of friendlies and youth games.

Pele lost his record of 643 goals for a single club to Lionel Messi in December, but still claims to be the single greatest goalscorer in history.

Santos, the club with which he spent almost two decades, say he scored 1,091 goals in their colours, while earlier this month the man himself updated his Instagram profile to claim 1,283 career goals – but again, that total includes friendlies and unofficial fixtures.

Remove those, accept the RSSSF figures and still you have to think that, even if Wednesday’s goal did not break any records for Ronaldo, they are certainly in reach as he shows few signings of slowing down.

The story does not quite end there, of course, with Ronaldo’s great rival Messi – two years his junior – 41 goals behind on 719.

Should Messi ever catch up, we can have the debate all over again.