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Features Pele and Ronaldo

Published on September 1st, 2017 | by Ryan Wallace


Ronaldo has NOT broken Pelé’s international goalscoring record

Well, he did, kind of.

But also not really.

See, the problem with stats in Football and many other sports, is that when taken into a certain context, they are very easy to manipulate to support a certain narrative.

Obviously in this case, the narrative is this:

While Pelé is widely regarded as the best Football player to ever grace the field of play, many believe that Cristiano Ronaldo is set to take over the reigns as the G.O.A.T. When these folks realised last night that Ronaldo scored his 78th goal for Portugal, he officially surpassed the Brazilian’s tally of  77 for the Samba Boys.

The logic: More international goals = a better player, right?

Well, not really. You see, you need to consider other factors as well. The most important, being the amount of matches played by each player. Once this is done, a completely different picture is painted.


Games: 92
Goals: 77


Games: 144
Goals: 78

That’s a difference of 52 games to score the same amount of goals, bar the one that Ronaldo scored last night.

A more accurate comparison would be to look at the games per goal ratio of each player.

Pelé scores at a rate of one goal for every 1.1 games, while Ronaldo needs close to two games to score, at 1.8 games per goal. That is quite a difference. If Pele had played the same amount of games as Ronaldo did, he would be standing on closer to 120 goals than Ronaldo’s 78.

So, not only is Ronaldo not a more prolific goalscorer than Pelé, but he’s also still carrying the title of not being the ‘Real Ronaldo’.

Over to you, Lionel Messi.


*Stats via Wikipedia. 


Written for The Pundits by @thatWallace

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About the Author

Sports nut. Hockey player. Loves everything online. Co-Founder and editor of The Pundits and a massive Chelsea FC fan. For more rants and banter, follow me on Twitter @thatWallace

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