5 Best Scorers in Football History

Football is a game that essentially comes down to a chess match, and your team is lucky to net one goal throughout the entire contest. Because of that, accumulating a lot of goals throughout your career can be incredibly difficult, and having someone who can finish in front of the net and put your team ahead is perhaps the most important piece of the puzzle. If you have one of the best strikes in football, you can achieve incredible things.

Throughout the history of football, which players have been the best at scoring? Instead of measuring by sheer volume, we’ll look at the five best goal-scorers based on talent and their overall accomplishments that came as a result of their abilities. Before we start the list, here are some of the great goal-scorers who just missed the list: Romario, Ferenc Deak, Gerd Muller, Jimmy Jones, and Robert Lewandowski.

Ferenc Puskas

We begin our list with a Hungarian player who helped to grow international interest in football following World War II. Ferenc Puskas spent the first 13 years of his professional career playing in his home country as a member of Budapest Honved. During that time, Puskas netted 358 goals and needed just 350 club matches to do so. He then turned his attention to Spain, joining Real Madrid for the final eight years of his career.

Puskas’s scoring abilities didn’t wane with higher competition, and he was still able to score 156 goals in 180 club matches. As a member of the Hungarian National Team, Puskas added another 84 goals in 85 matches. With all of his competitions taken into consideration, Puskas scored 729 times during his career, doing it in far fewer continental matches compared to some of the other greats.

Josef Bican

Sticking with players who came around earlier in the 20th century, Josef Bican was from Vienna and started his professional career in 1931 with Farbenlutz. After a few stints throughout his home country, Bican made his way to Slavia Prague where he spent nearly a decade. In 221 league games, Bican netted 427 goals, giving him a nearly two-goal-per-game average. After leaving in 1948, he continued scoring in bunches.

With the likes of FC Vitkovice and Dynamo Prague, Bican continued to average well over one goal per game. Though he ranks just outside of the top five of all-time in career scoring, Bican was known for being the fastest player in the world, allowing him to be a top scorer. Had there been more matches per year during his time, Bican may have been the world’s all-time top scorer.


Everyone, whether they’re football fans or not, knows who Pele is. The Brazilian star spent most of his professional career with Santos, then capped off his playing days by heading to the United States and drawing interest for the New York Cosmos. During league matches, Pele scored 606 times in 647 appearances.

His scoring prowess didn’t decline on the world stage, either, as Pele added another 77 goals in his 92 international matches representing Brazil. When accounting for all of his goals scored, Pele is third all-time with 762. While the other players on the list needed around 23 to 25 years for these accomplishments, Pele did it in 20.

Cristiano Ronaldo

We now turn to the modern era of football for our top two, and it was difficult to place them in the order that felt the most ‘right.’ In second place is Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the most brilliant strikers in football history who has scored more goals in continental play than anyone in football history. Ronaldo’s most memorable playing days have come as a member of Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Juventus, as well as the Portuguese National team.

Ronaldo averaged more than one goal per game as a member of Real Madrid, and he has nearly 120 goals in international play. In terms of overall goals, nobody has more than Ronaldo at more than 820. Between his feet and his head, there has always been more than one way for Ronaldo to beat a keeper.

Lionel Messi

You could probably guess who number one was going to be based on number two, and it’s indeed Argentinian Lionel Messi. Messi has spent nearly all of his professional career with Barcelona, scoring 474 times in league play before heading to Paris Saint-Germain. Of course, Messi has also represented his home country, scoring around 100 goals in international play.

Messi ranks second all-time in goals scored behind Ronaldo but has kept the tally close in fewer matches played. Messi’s agility and quickness make him lethal as a scorer, and he scores in much different ways than Ronaldo. While Ronaldo can knock a keeper into the net with a kick, Messi prefers to dance circles around them.

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