Scoring for your country is one of the greatest achievements for a footballer.
There are numerous figures who scored on multiple occasions for their country, with a huge pool of players scoring over half a century of goals. Many of football’s finest feature in this cohort, yet many more obscure and unique players have also achieved this feat.
Here’s our look at the most prolific and iconic goalscorers in international football.
48 = Ali Ashfaq – 53 goals
A hero in his native Maldives, Ashfaq is still going strong after making his debut in 2003.
He once scored six goals in a game against Sri Lanka and scored another four against Bhutan two days later in 2013.
48 = Zainal Abidin Hassan – 53 goals
Racking up the goals for Malaysia, Hassan has since moved into management.
48 = Joachim Streich – 53 goals
Tallying just short of a century of international caps, Streich averaged over a goal every two games for East Germany with 53.
Streich got the most goals and most caps for his country before the East German national team unified with the West German team six years after Streich’s retirement.
48 = Wayne Rooney – 53 goals
England’s greatest goalscorer earns a place on this list, with Rooney scoring 53 goals for the Three Lions. He overtook Sir Bobby Charlton as the all-time leading goalscorer in September 2015, scoring a penalty against Switzerland in a European qualifier to take his tally to 50 goals.
44 = Romario – 55 goals
Romário was clinical throughout his career and especially in his 18 years playing for Brazil, scoring 55 goals in 70 appearances and helping the Seleção to victory in the 1994 World Cup.
44 = Kazuyoshi Miura – 55 goals
Miura spent ten years playing for Japan and became one of their most distinguished goalscorers of all time, netting 55 times. Despite having multiple years where he failed to earn more than eight caps, Miura was truly clinical, scoring 18 goals in 19 caps in 1997.
44 = Jan Koller – 55 goals
Koller is the Czech Republic’s finest goalscorer, scoring 55 goals in his decade-long career with the national team.
The Czech striker, who played for Borussia Dortmund and Monaco among others, leads the goalscoring charts for his nation, with no other player scoring half a century of goals for the Czech Republic.
44 = Fandi Ahmad – 55 goals
Ahmad scored 55 goals for Singapore, in a successful international career spanning three decades. He made his debut in 1979, going on to make a century of caps and reaching 50 goals in 1995 before retiring from international football two years later.
42 = Bader Al-Mutawa – 56 goals
Since making his national team debut in 2003, Al-Mutawa has scored an impressive 56 goals for Kuwait. His 173 caps also make him the most capped player in Kuwaiti football history, as he also sits third in the goalscoring charts for his country.
42 = Samuel Eto’o – 56 goals
Eto’o has the honour of being Cameroon’s all-time leading goalscorer, with 56 goals in 118 appearances.
Eto’o was a key player for the Indomitable Lions, helping them win the Africa Cup of Nations in 2000 and 2002 as well as picking up an Olympic gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Games.
37 = Landon Donovan – 57 goals
Donovan is the USA’s joint all-time leading goalscorer, having netted 57 times from 2000 to 2014. The American also sits second in the number of appearances for the USMNT, just seven caps short of Cobi Jones’ record of 164 caps.
37 = Younis Mahmoud – 57 goals
Although he is quite a way off Iraq’s record goalscorer, Mahmoud is still one of his nation’s finest. From 2002 to 2016, the Iraqi striker netted 57 times in 148 caps, holding the feat of being Iraq’s most capped player of all time.
37 = Clint Dempsey – 57 goals
Dempsey shares the feat of being the USA’s record goalscorer with Landon Donovan, having also scored 57 goals for the US.
Dempsey managed his goals in 141 caps during a 13-year career, before announcing his retirement in 2017.
37 = Carlos Pavon – 57 goals
Pavón is one of the most decorated players in Honduran football history.
While he played for 14 different clubs in his playing career, Pavón’s goalscoring record was exceptional for his national team, netting 57 goals from 1993 to 2010 for Los Catrachos.
37 = Imre Schlosser – 57 goals
Making his international debut in 1906, Hungary’s Imre Schlosser is the earliest player to feature on this list.
During his 21 years playing for Hungary, Schlosser scored a respectable 59 goals before retiring in 1927. This is even more impressive considering he only earned 68 caps during his international career, and he certainly would have scored more if he had more opportunities to play.
35 = Abdul Ghani Minhat – 58 goals
Minhat represented both Malaya and Malaysia at international level. He was a regular scorer against the likes of Japan and Thailand.
35 = Cha Bum-kun – 58 goals
Cha Bum-kun holds the record for being South Korea’s leading goalscorer, netting 58 times in 135 appearances. He was the Bundesliga’s first ever South Korean player when he joined Darmstadt in 1978, and continued to play for the Red Devils until retiring in 1986.
33 = Edin Dzeko – 59 goals
Džeko’s goalscoring excellence for Bosnia and Herzegovina looks set to continue, as he sits on 59 goals in 114 caps.
The Roma talisman has represented his country since 2007, and despite already being top of the goalscoring charts he looks set to build on his impressive tally.
33 = David Villa – 59 goals
One of the key figures in Spain’s golden generation which won the 2010 World Cup, Villa is La Roja’s top goalscorer with 59 goals in just under a century of appearances.
Villa won the Silver Boot at the tournament in South Africa, where his wonderful performances lit up the competition as he scored five goals en route to Spain’s World Cup triumph.
30 = Ahmed Radhi – 62 goals
Radhi scored 62 goals during a 15-year career with Iraq, in which he made 121 appearances. He is considered to be one of his country’s greatest ever footballers, though he sits second in the goalscoring charts.
30 = Zlatan Ibrahimović – 62 goals
Ibrahimović is surely Sweden’s greatest player ever, something which is endorsed by his goalscoring record.
He missed out on Euro 2020 through injury, but the seemingly evergreen striker may end up in his country’s colours again one day.
30 = Ronaldo – 62 goals
Ronaldo is currently Brazil’s third highest goalscorer, having been overtaken by someone who we’ll get to in a moment.
The Brazilian icon scored 62 goals in 98 caps and played a key role in Brazil’s 2002 World Cup triumph, scoring both goals in their 2-0 final win over Germany in Yokohama.
28 = Romelu Lukaku – 63 goals
In joint 28th right now, but in all likelihood Lukaku will finish his career in the top ten of all international goalscorers at the very least.
Remarkably clinical, the striker has glorious playmakers around him for Belgium and still has plenty of years to add to his current haul of strikes.
28 = Jasem Al-Huwaidi – 63 goals
Al-Huwaidi scored 63 goals for Kuwait and represented his country at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.
Among his international honours were a silver medal in the Asian Games, two Gulf Cups and third place in the Arab Cup.
27. Luis Suarez – 64 goals
Although he is one of modern football’s pantomime villains, Luis Suárez’s ability as a goalscoring striker cannot be questioned.
The Barcelona striker is one of Uruguay’s most decorated players and leads the goalscoring charts, having scored 64 goals, featuring at three World Cups for La Celeste.
26. Didier Drogba – 65 goals
Ivory Coast’s all-time leading goalscorer and one of the greatest African players ever, Drogba was prolific for his country. The Chelsea legend netted 65 goals for the Elephants, earning a century of caps before calling time on his international career in 2014.
21 = Neymar – 68 goals
When you consider the fact that Neymar only made his Brazil debut in 2010, his goal tally of 68 is even more outstanding.
The Paris Saint-Germain star has made 108 appearances for the Seleção so far, and at 29 the many years he has ahead of him suggest Neymar could become Brazil’s greatest ever goalscorer.
21 = Robbie Keane – 68 goals
Robbie Keane’s place on this list is no surprise, with the Irishman maintaining a reputation of being a prolific striker throughout his career.
Keane scored 68 goals in 146 caps for the Republic of Ireland and leads the way in both goals and appearances for his nation.
21 = Carlos Ruiz – 68 goals
Ruiz represented his country for 18 years before retiring in 2016, scoring 68 goals in that time and making the most amount of appearances for his nation.
21 = Gerd Müller – 68 goals
Müller was a goalscoring genius in the 1960s and 1970s, with a fine record for West Germany. Der Bomber scored 68 goals in 62 caps during his short but sweet eight-year career, at an average of 1.1 goals per game.
21 = Hossam Hassan – 68 goals
Hossam Hassan is considered to be one of Egypt’s best ever players, having scored 68 times for the Pharoahs.
In an international career spanning three decades and 176 games, Hassan helped his country to three Africa Cup of Nations titles before finally retiring after 21 years in 2006.
20. Robert Lewandowski – 69 goals
Lewandowski has a strong scoring record for Poland, having managed 69 goals since making his senior debut in 2008.
He became the first Poland international to score in three European Championships during Euro 2020. A complete forward.
18 = Stern John – 70 goals
John is not only the record goalscorer for Trinidad and Tobago, but also for any CONCACAF nation.
The Trinidadian forward, who spent time at Coventry City and Crystal Palace, scored 70 goals in 115 appearances, making him one of the greatest international goalscorers around.
18 = Piyapong Pue-on – 70 goals
Pue-on was a regular scorer during the various editions of the Southeast Asian Games in the 1980s and 1990s.
He finished his international career with 70 goals in 100 caps.
15 = Miroslav Klose – 71 goals
Miroslav Klose broke two huge records in 2014, firstly overtaking Gerd Müller to become Germany’s all-time leading goalscorer.
His second came in the World Cup of that year, when Klose became the all-time men’s leading World Cup goalscorer with 16 goals in the semi-final thrashing of Brazil. He retired following Die Mannschaft’s victory, scoring 71 goals in 137 appearances over 13 years.
15 = Kiatisuk Senamuang – 71 goals
Pue-on was just one goal short of becoming Thailand’s record goalscorer, but instead that honour goes to Kiatisuk Senamuang.
Senamuang represented Thailand for 14 years after making his debut in 1993 and went on to score a record 71 goals, amassing a record 134 appearances.
15 = Kinnah Phiri – 71 goals
Kinnah Phiri is Malawi’s greatest player of all time, with his 71 goals making him their outright top scorer. Phiri played for his country during the 1970s and 1980s, managing a record 115 appearances in eight years representing Malawi.
14. Majed Abdullah – 72 goals
Saudi Arabia’s record goalscorer represented his nation across three decades, helping them to two Asian Cups in 1984 and 1988.
Abdullah scored 72 times for the Green Falcons and helped them become one of the best teams in the Middle East, calling time on his international career after the 1994 World Cup.
13. Lionel Messi – 73 goals
Argentina’s captain currently has 73 international goals to his name since making his debut in 2005 and, while he leads the way for the Albiceleste in terms of goals, Messi will certainly want to keep raising his goal tally for his country.
While he is Barcelona’s record goalscorer and leads the charts in numerous club competitions, Messi still has a way to go in the international goalscoring list despite his impressive tally.
12. Sunil Chhetri – 74 goals
Chhetri is undoubtedly India’s greatest ever player, holding the record for both the most amount of goals and appearances for the country.
The India captain has scored 74 goals in 118 caps for the Blue Tigers.
10 = Bashar Abdullah – 75 goals
Once ranked 24th in the world, Kuwait sat high in the rankings thanks to Bashar Abdullah’s goalscoring record.
Abdullah grabbed 75 goals for Kuwait, helping them to a fourth place finish at the 1996 Asian Cup. He retired from international duty in 2007 and remains Kuwait’s most distinguished goalscorer.
10 = Sándor Kocsis – 75 goals
Despite netting an impressive 75 goals for Hungary, Kocsis is the highest international goalscorer on this list who is not his nation’s all-time leading goalscorer.
Despite averaging a remarkable 1.1 goals per game, Kocsis ranks second for Hungary having played alongside the great Ferenc Puskás. Nevertheless he was an outstanding player, averaging 9.4 goals a year during his short but sweet eight-year international career.
9. Ali Mabkhout – 76 goals
Making his debut for the United Arab Emirates in 2009, Mabkhout has racked up the goals in Asian Cups and qualification games.
He’s scored against teams like Australia, Iceland, Japan and New Zealand.
8. Pelé – 77 goals
Regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, Pelé scored 77 times for Brazil during one of the national team’s most successful eras.
Pelé began his international career and goal tally at 16, making him the youngest ever goalscorer for the Seleção. He also played a key part in three of Brazil’s five World Cup wins, as he was a part of the winning squads of 1958, 1962 and 1970.
7. Hussein Saeed – 78 goals
Iraq’s top goalscorer Saeed is sixth in the all-time list, registering 78 goals for his country. As well as being his nation’s record goalscorer, Saeed also made the second-most caps for Iraq, with his 137 appearances placing him narrowly behind Younis Mahmoud.
6. Godfrey Chitalu – 79 goals
Zambia’s Godfrey Chitalu is the highest scoring African international of all time, scoring 79 goals in 111 caps for the Chipolopolo.
After representing his country for 12 years, Chitalu became Zambia manager in 1993. However, his managerial career only lasted a matter of months, as he tragically lost his life later that year alongside the entire Zambian squad in the infamous plane crash.
5. Kunishige Kamamoto – 80 goals
Kamamoto had an excellent goalscoring record for Japan, with 0.95 goals per game in his international career. He averaged 5.7 goals a year during his a 13-year career with the Samurai Blue, scoring 15 goals in 1972 and eight hat-tricks before retiring in 1977.
4. Ferenc Puskás – 84 goals
Puskás was a natural born goalscorer, playing a huge role in Hungary’s Mighty Magyars squad. He netted 84 goals in just 85 caps sitting just short of a goal per game, and was the highest international goalscorer of all time for over four decades before being overtaken in 2003.
3. Mokhtar Dahari – 89 goals
He never scored against a European nation, but there’s no doubting Dahari was able to find the back of the net when Malaysia needed him.
Most of his strikes came during the 1970s in competitions such as the Merdeka Tournament and the SEA Games. He scored five goals in a game twice during his career – against the Philippines in 1974 and Burma in 1977.
1 = Cristiano Ronaldo – 109 goals
Ronaldo is the highest ranked active player on the list. The Portuguese superstar drew level with Ali Daei – who we’ll get to in a second – during Euro 2020 and could surpass the Iranian before the tournament is over.
Ronaldo’s goals have been pivotal in Portugal’s recent success, captaining them to the 2016 European Championship and 2019 Nations League titles.
1 = Ali Daei – 109 goals
In an international career spanning 13 years from 1993 to 2006, Daei scored an incredible 109 goals in 149 caps for Team Melli.
Daei scored the majority of his goals in the 21st century, with 54% of his goals coming in the final six years of his career. However, what’s remarkable is that Daei only failed to score in one competition that he played in, never managing to net in the World Cup in five appearances.
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