Who has scored the most goals in international football? Lionel Messi chasing Cristiano Ronaldo's all-time record

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Cristiano Ronaldo Christine Sinclair Lionel Messi
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Cristiano Ronaldo might be playing in Saudi Arabia these days, but he's still racking up records in Portuguese colours.

The 39-year-old holds the record for most international appearances in the history of men's football after playing his 200th game for Portugal in June 2023. He doesn't only hold the record for the most games played for a male player, but he also has the most international goals of all time, as part of his enduring pursuit of titles and records.

Argentina and Inter Miami star Lionel Messi — who is three years younger — can still catch Ronaldo for both records, if he plays on through to the 2026 World Cup.

The Sporting News is regularly updating the rankings for most international goals in the history of men's football below. 

MORE: Where is FIFA World Cup 2026? Host countries, cities for next men's tournament

Who has scored the most goals in men's international football?

Ronaldo holds the record for the most goals scored in men's international football. The Al Nassr and Portugal striker has 128 goals in 205 senior appearances for his country.

Ronaldo broke the long-standing goal record held by Iran's Ali Daei when he scored twice against the Republic of Ireland back in September 2021.

Those two were later joined by Messi, as the only three men's players to reach a century of international goals, with Messi hitting the mark after a hat-trick against Curacao on March 28, with his current tally at 106 in 180 Argentina matches.

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Most international goals: Men's all-time top 10

Table below is updated as of March 25, 2024.

*Denotes active player

  Player Country Goals Caps Years active
1. Cristiano Ronaldo* Portugal 128 205 2003 —
2. Ali Daei Iran 109 148 1993-2006
3. Lionel Messi* Argentina 106 180 2005 —
4. Sunil Chhetri* India 93 145 2005 —
5. Mokhtar Dahari Malaysia 89 142 1972-1985
6. Ali Mabkhout* UAE 85 115 2009 —
7. Ferenc Puskas Hungary 84 89 1945-1956
8. Romelu Lukaku* Belgium 83 113 2010 —
9. Robert Lewandowski* Poland 82 147 2008 —
10. Godfrey Chitalu Zambia 79 111 1968-1980
= Neymar* Brazil 79 128 2010 —

Who has scored the most goals in women's international football?

Even if Ronaldo and Messi continue to play well into their 40s, it is almost impossible for them to catch the goal tallies of the leading women's international goalscorers.

The top-scoring player in women's international football — and, indeed, overall — is Canada's Christine Sinclair, who has managed a staggering 190 goals in 322 appearances in 23 years.

Christine Sinclair - Canada - Olympic gold

She is six goals ahead of USWNT great Abby Wambach, who retired in 2015. The top 10 is dominated by USA stars, who make up half of the list, although all but Alex Morgan have retired.

MORE: Cristiano Ronaldo goal scoring record: List of all-time top scorers

Most international goals: Women's all-time top 10

Table below is updated as of November 17, 2023.

*Denotes active player

  Player Country Goals Caps Years active
1. Christine Sinclair Canada 190 322 2000-2023
2. Abby Wambach USA 184 256 2001-2015
3. Maysa Jbarah Jordan 133 129 2005-2023
4. Mia Hamm USA 158 275 1987-2004
4. Carli Lloyd USA 134 316 2005-2021
5. Kristine Lilly USA 130 352 1987-2010
6. Birgit Prinz Germany 128 214 1994-2011
7. Alex Morgan* USA 123 221 2010 —
8. Julie Fleeting Scotland 116 121 1996-2011
9. Marta Brazil 115 175 2002-2023
10. Patricia Panico Italy 110 196 1996-2014
Joe Wright Photo

Joe is Senior Editor (Football) at Sporting News.