It is incredible to think that a man who is 35 years old is still at the pinnacle of world football. Never in history has a player dominated a sport to this extent for so long. Cristiano Ronaldo’s reign has lasted just over 16 years, and the forward has constantly found new ways to reinvent himself and stay on top.
Let us forget the fact that he is the first footballer to reach career earnings of $1billion or that he is the most followed person in the world on Instagram. Those are achievements that come with being Cristiano Ronaldo. This article will focus more on his great work on the pitch.
Of course, it will be tough to narrow down the icon’s greatest stats down to five, but we will do our best. I am not here to debate why Cristiano Ronaldo is the greatest player ever, because the GOAT does not need a defence.
5 stats that prove Cristiano Ronaldo is the GOAT:
#5 First player to score in ten consecutive international tournaments
Consistency and dedication are two character traits that many would use to describe Cristiano Ronaldo. His determination to be the best of his generation is absolutely astonishing.
The sporting icon is not one of those great talents that only performs for his club- he also translates that form onto the international stage. This only proves that he is not reliant on a system, a manager or certain players- he is world-class wherever he goes.
During the time period of 2004 to 2019, Ronaldo became the first player ever to score in 10 consecutive international tournaments. That feat included scoring at four World Cups, four Euros, a Confederations Cup and the Nations League. Such a consistent streak proves that his longevity will never again be matched in football.
Source: Soccer La Duma
#4 First player to score a goal in every minute of the 90
Cristiano Ronaldo is such a complete player that the man is dangerous in every single minute of the game. There is not a second you can leave him unmarked or unattended to, as he can strike at any moment.
The forward’s unrivalled determination, insatiable appetite for goals and constant final third movement make it hard for managers to ever substitute him during a match, regardless of his age or fatigue.
Ronaldo plays with the same intensity from the first minute of the game to stoppage time, making him a nightmare for opposing defenders.
The 35-year-old is the first player in footballing history to have scored in every single minute of the 90 across his playing career. The only other player to have matched him is Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Not surprisingly, the Portuguese captain reached this milestone back in 2014 where he scored against his favourite team to score against, Atletico Madrid.
#3 Champions League all-time top scorer
Elite players perform on the biggest stages in the best competitions. The UEFA Champions League is the pinnacle of club football and no competition can boast of a higher calibre pool of teams than the UCL.
This is where the best of each country’s domestic league meet each other, giving us dream matches containing moments that last a lifetime.
No player in the history of this tournament has more memorable moments than Cristiano Ronaldo. The greatest player to have ever lived has dominated the UCL with big-game performances on countless occasions.
That is why he is the tournament’s all-time top scorer, having scored an unprecedented 129 goals in 167 appearances. This is apart from 40 assists, which is also the most in the tournament’s history.
But that alone still does not tell the whole story, as the Portuguese captain has many more records in the tournament. Ronaldo was the first-ever player to reach 100 carer wins in the UCL, and was also the first-ever player to score 100 UCL goals.
#2 Best goals-per-game ratio in La Liga history
Lionel Messi may be the all-time top scorer in La Liga, but Cristiano Ronaldo still owns the best goals-per-game ratio in the Spanish top-flight.
In 292 La Liga appearances, the ex-Real Madrid winger scored an astonishing 311 goals. This goal output led him to notch up a record 1.07 strike rate, dwarfing Messi’s 0.92. In essence, what we are saying is that Ronaldo has scored more goals than games he's played, and that is an anomaly in world football today.
His strike rate makes sense when you realise that he was the fastest player to reach 150 goals (148 matches), 200 goals (178 matches) and 300 goals (286 matches) in La Liga. Lest we forget, the 35-year-old also holds the record for the most hat-tricks in a La Liga campaign, with 8.
From a goal-scoring point of view, the Spanish league will never see someone like the Madrid legend again. It's also incredible to think that Cristiano Ronaldo scored all of these goals playing as a left winger!
#1 Europe’s most prolific international scorer
When you think of European football, there are so many legends that have graced the continent. The likes of Eusebio, Ferenc Puskas, Johan Cruyff, Dennis Bergkamp, Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo & Thierry Henry have all made their presence known, but they all pale in comparison to the GOAT, Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portuguese legend is the highest-scoring European in international football history, second in the world only to Ali Daei of Iran. Ronaldo has scored 99 goals in 164 appearances for his nation. The closest European to him is Ferenc Puskas with 84 international goals. To put this in perspective, Lionel Messi has scored 70 goals in 138 games.
From his international debut in 2003, Cristiano Ronaldo has carried his country on his back, and has never shied away from the pressure. He's delivered on countless occasions, and holds the record for most hat-tricks (9) for his national team. He is also the youngest player to reach 100 caps for his nation.