Cristiano Ronaldo at 35: A breakdown of the Juventus star's goalscoring record
This week sees the great Cristiano Ronaldo celebrate his 35th birthday, and over the best part of the last two decades, we’ve seen the Portuguese grow from a preening teenage winger at Manchester United to arguably the greatest player to ever play football.
Along the way, CR7 has won a ridiculous amount of trophies at both club and international level – and the biggest constant of his career has been his insane goalscoring ability. With a total of over 700 goals to his name, Ronaldo continues to amaze – and with the physical condition he keeps himself in, the Portuguese international is clearly not done yet.
Here is a breakdown of Cristiano Ronaldo’s goalscoring record, from his early years to the present day.
Aged 17-22: Seasons 2002-03 to 2006-07
Ronaldo’s professional career started with Portuguese Primeira Liga side Sporting CP, and at 17 years old he broke into the club’s first team – scoring 2 goals on his league debut against Moreirense. People might look back now and claim that this was a glimpse of his goalscoring future, but that wouldn’t necessarily be true – Ronaldo only scored 5 goals in his 31 games during his debut season, before moving to Manchester United at the age of 18 in the summer of 2003.
Upon his move to Old Trafford, Ronaldo not only became United’s first-ever Portuguese player, but he also became the most expensive teenager in English football history, as the Red Devils paid £12.25m for his services.
It took Ronaldo some time to adjust to life in English football, and in his first season, the goals didn’t exactly flow. Deployed largely as a winger due to his already-excellent dribbling ability, the Portuguese scored just 6 goals in 40 appearances, although one of them gave a hint of what was to come for him in big matches – he scored the opening goal in the 2004 FA Cup final as United defeated Millwall, giving Ronaldo his first-ever major trophy.
The summer of 2004 was also a fruitful one for Ronaldo – he scored his first international goals for Portugal at that year’s European Championship, although he could not help his side win the tournament as hosts; they instead fell to underdogs Greece in the final.
2004-05 and 2005-06 were both largely fruitless for CR7; his goal ratio increased, scoring 9 in 50 games and then 12 in 47, but the only trophy he got his hands on was the secondary EFL Cup in the latter season. Even so, the Portuguese still showed his flair for scoring historic goals – he netted the 1000th Premier League goal for Manchester United in October 2005 against Middlesbrough.
The summer of 2006 saw the 21-year old hit a crossroads point in his career; he scored a goal against Iran in that summer’s World Cup as Portugal made the semi-finals, but also became involved in a notorious incident in a game against England that saw his Manchester United teammate Wayne Rooney sent off, and when the Three Lions were eliminated, the English press were more than happy to blame Ronaldo.
Rumours then abounded that he was ready to abandon his United career – but instead, he stayed, and apparently burying the hatchet with Rooney, went onto his most fruitful year yet. Delivering 23 goals in all competitions, Ronaldo finished as the Red Devils’ joint top scorer alongside Rooney, and helped United win the Premier League title – a first for the Portuguese. He also scored his first-ever goals in the Champions League – the first of many.
At the age of 22, Ronaldo was clearly on the verge of greatness – but even then, nobody could’ve predicted quite how great he’d become.