They say that scoring a goal is the hardest thing to do in soccer, there are players trying to take you down, a goalkeeper to get past, the expectations of the crowds.
Everything is against you, time and space are at a premium, which is why those that can score are so coveted and revered. But every now and then, a player emerges that can not only score goals but score them with such regularity that they become indispensable.
Today we’re going to go through the top 25 players with the most career goals, a who’s who of domestic and international legends, some you will know, some we guarantee you won’t.
A list comprised of current and past players whose names will live on forever, simply because they knew how to put a leather ball into a net. And we love them for it.
25. Zico – 469 Goals
One of the greatest Brazilian players of all time, Zico was one of the defining players of the 1970s and 80s.
Playing in three World Cups, but winning none, a free-kick specialist without peer, Zico scored 469 career goals, 101 of them direct free-kicks.
Zico was an attacking midfielder with an eye for a pass and is regarded as one of the most skillful players in history. A classic number 10, Zico drifted around the middle of the pitch, creating and finishing with skills that confounded his opponents and thrilled fans.
24. Jimmy Greaves – 469 Goals
Another legend of the game, Jimmy Greaves was a member of the 1966 World Cup squad but was cruelly left out of the historic final against West Germany.
Fondly remembered as one of the finest goalscorers of his generation, Greaves amassed an impressive 469 career goals and 44 goals in 57 international appearances.
Greaves will be remembered most for his unerring ability to find the net, with a goal tally that would shine in any era.
23. Franz Binder – 502 Goals
#FranzBinder was an Austrian football player and coach. Nicknamed #Bimbo, #Binder was a prolific goalscorer who played for #SKRapid. He won the national Austrian championship 4 times and was 3 times top goalscorer in Austrian league. In 1941 he also won the German championship. pic.twitter.com/AjXclzu3T9— OldFootballPhotos (@OldFootball11) June 28, 2018
Franz Binder, one of the select few to have scored over 1000 goals in his career, is an Austrian soccer legend. While some of his goals were in tournaments unrecognized in this list, his achievements stand the test of time.
Rapid Wiens’ leading goalscorer, Binder flitted between Germany and Holland, always returning to his beloved Rapid Wien, playing for the club on three separate occasions on his way to a superb 502 goals.
22. Imre Schlosser – 504 Goals
Pre-Second World War Hungary was an unlikely hotbed of talent, the national team was one of the first truly great teams, utilizing tactics the rest of Europe couldn’t handle.
Imre Schlosser was an integral part of both his national team, playing 68 times and scoring 58 goals and also of Ferencvarosi, where his phenomenal scoring ability eventually led him to end his playing career with 504 goals.
21. Hugo Sanchez – 507 Goals
Real Madrid and Mexico royalty, Hugo Sanchez could be the greatest Mexican soccer player of all time. The fourth highest scorer in La Liga history, which when we consider the players to have played in Spain just reinforces how special a player Sanchez was.
An intelligent player who relied as much on his movement and game awareness as he did his scoring ability, Sanchez was known as a prolific penalty taker, as well as attempting bicycle kicks to score outrageous goals.
A tally of 507 goals throughout a 20-year career cements Hugo Sanchez as one of the greatest strikers of his, of any, generation.
20. Luis Suarez – 509 Goals
As divisive as Luis Suarez can be, given his well-documented history of biting players on the pitch, it is hard for anyone to argue about how prodigious a talent he is as a player.
509 career goals for teams as illustrious as Ajax, Liverpool, Barcelona, and Atletico Madrid have ensured the legacy of one of Uruguay’s greatest ever players.
Averaging a goal every two gales for his national team, Suarez has proven himself to be a lethal striker, with a tendency to run quickly at defenses to run past for a shot on goal. A hard-working teammate, Suarez often comes up with crucial goals for his teams.
19. Roberto Dinamite – 511 Goals
Dinamite by name, dynamite by nature, Roberto Dinamite is a Brazilian striker with an enviable record.
A career spanning two decades, and aside from an ill-fated spell with Barcelona, a one-club man with Vasco Da Gama, Dinamite’s 511 goals is a Brazilian Seria A record that still stands to this day.
Averaging over a goal every two games for Brazil, Roberto eventually used his fame and goodwill as a player to enter politics.
18 Robert Lewandowski – 525 Goals
Polish assassin Robert Lewandowski is the complete center-forward, with pace, power, and an eye for goal that borders on mystical.
The second-highest Bundesliga goalscorer of all time, being Gerd Muller, Lewandowski was bred to be a striker, having every attribute needed, he is great in the air, great with both feet, and is powerful and intelligent on and off the ball.
With 525 career goals, Lewandowski seems to be like a fine wine, the older he gets, the better he gets. Scoring over 40 goals per season for Bayern Munich.
As he doesn’t appear to be slowing down, it is safe to assume he will end his career much higher up this list than he is currently.
17. Gyorgy Sarosi – 526 Goals
Another Hungarian in the mold of Imre Schlosser is Gyorgy Sarosi. A prolific striker for Ferencvarosi, Sarosi played his entire career for the Budapest club, an impressive 18 years in total.
526 goals in a stellar career that included scoring in a World Cup final in 1938, where Hungary lost to Italy 4-2. Often playing behind the main striker, Sarosi excelled at arriving into the area and scoring crucial goals.
Sarosi moved to Italy upon his retirement and went into management, although not with the same success he brought to his scoring career.
16. Alfredo Di Stefano – 530 Goals
Mr. Real Madrid himself, Alfredo Di Stefano is rightly regarded as one of the greatest soccer players of all time.
Born in Argentina, yet playing his International soccer for both Argentina and Spain, he moved to Real Madrid in 1953, Di Stefano was a key figure in the team that dominated domestically and in Europe throughout the decade.
With five, yes five, European Cups to his name, and having scored in each of the finals, Di Stefano finished his career with an incredible 530 goals. It is his legacy, however, that he will be most remembered for. A truly great player, and a legend to boot.
15. Jimmy McGrory – 550 Goals
Glasgow Celtic has produced some of the finest soccer players to play in the UK, and Jimmy McGrory is at the very top of that list.
A diminutive yet lethal finisher, McGrory holds the record as the leading goalscorer in British soccer history with 550 goals to his name/
Remarkably, despite his world-class scoring record, McGrory only had 7 international caps to his name, but on the domestic stage, he was truly remarkable.
At only 1.68m tall, McGrory realized that jumping higher than defenders would be fruitless, so he worked on diving horizontally instead, making diving headers one of his trademark moves.
A Celtic legend, it is unlikely that his record will be broken any time soon, something the “Human Torpedo” would have been justifiably proud of.
14. Uwe Seeler – 551 Goals
Lethal West German striker Uwe Seeler, a one-club man with Hamburger SV, epitomizes efficiency and consistency.
Seeler was a natural leader on the pitch, strong on the ball, and with an almost uncanny strike rate. Panicky defenders could not handle the strong, unerring bursts of power from Seeler, and with 404 goals in 476 appearances for Hamburg, we can see why.
Seeler also had a brother, Dieter, who also played for Hamburg, a fairly rare occurrence for brothers to play for the same team, they almost took their club to the final of the European cup in 1961.
13. Fernando Peyroteo – 552 Goals
Playing his entire career for Sporting CP in Portugal, Fernando Peyroteo, the Angola-born striker, had 11 prolific seasons with the Portuguese giants.
While 11 seasons with the same club is impressive, many players on our list have had at least 20-year careers, so for Peyroteo to have scored to such a high amount is a testament to his skills.
In his 11 seasons, Peyroteo scored 332 league goals in 197 games, a truly world-class return for the talented player.
Retiring at 31, Fernando tragically lost a leg after getting injured in a veterans game, the subsequent surgery developed complications, and Peyroteo passed away at the age of 60.
He will, however, always be remembered as a truly gifted player, with an excellent scoring record.
12. Zlatan Ibrahimovic – 553 Goals
With a flair for the spectacular, Zlatan makes scoring look easy. He is another player that has managed to play in the top leagues for two decades, which in itself is impressive.
It is the manner of some of his goals that mark out Ibrahimovic as one of the greatest strikers of modern history, a long-range specialist with an eye for goal that most people don’t even see until he has scored.
Big, aggressive, and ruthless, Zlatan makes defenders miserable, and the fans go wild for his antics. Already a legend, he still has the desire to keep playing, and with luck, he will keep on scoring too.
11. Glenn Ferguson – 562 Goals
Longevity is very much a factor in who makes the top scorers list, and Northern Irish legend Glenn Ferguson is no exception.
A career spanning two decades playing for Glenavon and Linfield gave the evergreen Ferguson an astonishing 562 goals. With a scandalously low number of international appearances (5), Belfast-born Ferguson is nonetheless a deserved addition to our list with only Jimmy Jones scoring more goals in Northern Ireland.
10. Joe Bambrick – 616 Goals
Another Pre-war goalscoring legend, Joe Bambrick carved out a career from the mid-twenties right up until the outbreak of World War Two, leading the line for Glentoran and Linfield in Northern Ireland, before a move to England with Chelsea,
Bambrick was famous for being in the right place, at the right time, using any part of his body that was available to get the ball over the line.
Especially prolific for Linfield over 8 years, Bambrick will be fondly remembered as a superb finisher.
9. Eusebio – 622 Goals
Eusebio da Silva Ferreira, nicknamed the ‘Black Panther’ for his ferocity and sheer speed, is regarded as the greatest player ever to play in Portugal, no mean feat when you are competing with Cristiano Ronaldo.
Eusebio and Benfica absolutely dominated Portuguese soccer for over a decade, winning 7 La Liga in the 1960’s alone, as well as being a prolific striker in European competition too.
Voted often into the greatest soccer teams of all time, and adored in Portugal, Eusebio is rightly mentioned in the same breath with the best players. 622 career goals do not even begin to explain just how great a player Eusebio truly was.
8. Gerd Muller – 634 Goals
A poacher of impeccable class, Gerd Muller, or ‘Der Bomber’ as he was affectionately known in West Germany, was a striker without compare.
Bayern Munich and Germany legend Muller, was a true striker in that his desire to score was absolute, often seen prowling the 6-yard box as he scored 398 goals in 453 Bayern Munich appearances.
A World Cup and Golden Boot winner, Muller was truly outstanding at his profession, almost impossible to stop, and impossible not to admire.
One of world soccers true legends, he has almost as many individual honors for the number of goals he scored as he did Bayern and West German titles.
7. Jimmy Jones – 647 Goals
Given the amount of Northern Irish legends on our list, it is a wonder that Northern Ireland didn’t go on to become a superpower in world soccer, as Jimmy Jones makes our list with a staggering 647 career goals.
A career spent solely in Ireland, Jones was so prolific and so feared by opposing teams that while playing for Belfast Celtic against Linfield on Boxing Day of 1948, after the game Jones was chased onto the terraces by Linfield fans and stamped on by supporters until they broke his leg.
The result of this was astounding, Belfast Celtic quit the league soccer entirely, and Jones spent a year recovering, before coming back and scoring for fun for another twenty years.
6. Josef Bican – 720 Goals
If this list was using statistics from the Rec Sport Soccer Statistics Foundation rather than FIFA, the great Josef Bican would be a great deal higher in our rankings.
Credited by the foundation with 1812 goals in 1301 games, Bican was insatiable in front of goal, including 1137 for Slavia Praha.
However, as we are going by the FIFA stats, Bican can only be credited with a mere 720 career goals, which is still a remarkable tally, in any era.
Bican also played for three different countries internationally, having been born in Austria, he made 19 appearances for them before applying for Czechoslovakian citizenship, playing 14 times for his new country.
Intermingled with this was a sole appearance for Bohemia and Moravia, an annexed territory created by the Nazis during World War Two.
Bican certainly got around, playing for 10 clubs in a career at times blighted by the Communist party trying to use him as a figurehead, something he always refused to agree to. But when viewed purely as a soccer player, Bican has to go down as one of the best in world soccer.
5. Ferenc Puskas – 729 Goals
Hungary in the early 20th century was a breeding ground for quality soccer players, with a national team known as the Mighty Magyars, and there are none greater, and none more famous, than Ferenc Puskas.
Honved and Real Madrid were the benefactors of Puskas’ skills on the domestic scene, where his goalscoring record was incredible. 729 career goals and a legacy that will never be surpassed Puskas is soccer royalty.
To indicate just how important Ferenc Puskas was and perhaps still is to soccer, especially to Hungary and Real Madrid, when he sadly passed away of pneumonia at the age of 79, he was given a state funeral and laid to rest in St Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest.
During the 1956 European Cup, Honved and Puskas were playing Atletico Bilbao in Spain when the Hungarian Revolution broke out, trapping them abroad for some time. Unable to go home, the players brought their families to Europe and went on a tour of Italy.
After the tour, and with many, including Puskas, unable to go home, he set about looking for a new club. Incredibly, he found this difficult, his fitness and weight were brought into question, and he found it difficult to find a club willing to take him on.
Eventually, at 31, Real Madrid took a chance, and Puskas joined almost 2 years after heading for an away game with Honved.
While at Madrid, Puskas formed a formidable partnership with Alfredo di Stefano, where he scored over 20 goals a season in his first 6 seasons.
A remarkable player and an incredible legacy will remain, in part helped by the 5 consecutive La Liga and 3 European Cups Puskas won while there. Not bad for an overweight 31-year old without a club.
4. Romario – 753 Goals
Brazil has always had its fair share of genius center-forwards, and World cup winner Romario is easily the pick of them. With a career spanning an eye-watering 24 years, and with 753 career goals, it is not hard to see why.
And while the stats themselves are superb, they don’t quite give the full story. Nearly every world-class player of the era all stated that Romario was the best player they had ever seen, players like Maradona, Van Basten, Maldini, and fellow Brazilian Ronaldo.
All say that in and around the box, Romario was truly exceptional, that he changed the role of center-forward forever. Arriving late, drifting wide, dribbling past players, in the six-yard box, Romario utilized and mastered every facet of the art of scoring goals.
And score goals he did, from Brazil to Holland, to Barcelona in Spain, Romario will go down in history as one of the most creative, effective, and most loved players ever.
After retirement, Romario took advantage of this devotion by going into politics in his home nation, where he is an outspoken detractor of corruption in world soccer in general, and FIFA in particular.
3. Lionel Messi – 755 Goals
Argentinian wizardry at its best, Lionel Messi has scored sublime goals in some of the biggest games in world soccer.
Probably the greatest player of all time, Messi is a once-in-a-lifetime talent, and while he doesn’t top our scoring list with 755 career goals to date, if you add his goal assists his tally almost trebles.
As comfortable with a long-range shot as he is dribbling past five players and walking the ball into the net, if it’s great goals you seek, look no further than Lionel Messi.
2. Pele – 765 Goals
Having made the Santos first team at 15, and the Brazil side at 16, it is easy to see why Pele, dubbed the greatest player ever by FIFA, has such an impressive goals haul.
Averaging almost a goal per game for his 21-year career, and becoming the first real global soccer player, Pele played for Santos for 18 years, before a highly publicized move to the New York Cosmos in 1975, playing alongside legends such as Franz Beckenbauer and Giorgio Chinaglia.
Scoring on his debut in 1957 for Brazil at the age of only 16, Pele remains the youngest scorer for his country over six decades later.
An ambassador for the game, and also as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Pele transcends soccer, although he has always been supremely proud of his goalscoring prowess, and for good reason.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo – 794 Goals
A fantasy football record, as well as the number one spot on our list, belongs to the superhuman Cristiano Ronaldo.
Easily one of the best players in history, arguably the greatest, Ronaldo makes scoring look easy. But it is his insatiable desire to be number one that makes him so incredible.
Reputedly an incredible trainer, Ronaldo remains at the peak of his powers through sheer willpower and fitness. Always demanding the ball, and always with the aim of scoring a goal, his record is simply magnificent.
The Portuguese wizard has 133 International goals, and with his total sitting at 794 as of October 2021, you would expect him to continue scoring until he decides to hang up his boots. And with any luck, that will be many years from now.