Representing your national football team is something every footballer in the world aspires to do but to score a goal for your national team is a great achievement.
However, the feeling of being your national team’s record goalscorer is an indescribable feeling. The outcome of a football match rotates around goals and over the years many great players have shone for their respective national teams through their goal scoring prowess.
Many players have single-handedly won laurels for their countries through their goals. So, let’s take a look at the top 10 international goal scorers of all time.NOTE: Players with the same number of goals have been ranked based on their goals/game average.
#10 Miroslav Klose (Germany) - 71 goals
Miroslav Klose is regarded as one of the finest strikers of his generation and one of Germany’s greatest ever strikers due to his heading accuracy, pace, and aerial ability. Klose’s club career has been impressive but he is best remembered for his performances with Germany.
In an international career lasting 13 years from 2001 till the 2014 World Cup, Klose netted 71 goals for his nation in 137 matches with a goals/game average of 0.518.
In his debut against Albania, it took only 15 minutes for Klose to score his maiden international goal after having come on as a substitute. Klose first came into international prominence at the 2002 World Cup where he scored five headers and helped Germany reach the final. He scored another five goals at the 2006 World Cup and was awarded the Golden Boot for being the top scorer of the tournament.
Another four goals at the 2010 World Cup made Klose the first, and till date, the only player to have scored at least four goals at three World Cups.
Klose finally laid his hands on the World Cup in 2014 where he scored twice and became the all-time leading goal scorer in World Cup history when he ironically Ronaldo’s 15-goal record against Brazil at Brazil. Soon after the World Cup, Klose called quits on his international career.
Out of his 71 goals, 48 of them have come in competitive matches and barring Euro 2004, there hasn’t been an international tournament where Klose played but did not score. During Klose’s international career, Germany have never lost a match where Klose scored.
#9 Majed Abdullah (Saudi Arabia) - 71 goals
Majed Abdullah is considered to be one of the best Saudi Arabian footballers ever, mainly due to his goal scoring prowess. In an international career lasting 17 years, Abdullah scored 71 goals for his country in 116 appearances.
Nicknamed the “Arabian Jewel”, Abdullah helped Saudi Arabia to back-to-back Asian Cup titles in 1984 and 1988, scoring three goals in both tournaments and being the joint second-highest goal scorer in the 1984 tournament.
Abdullah also helped Saudi Arabia reach their first Olympics during the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics where he scored Saudi Arabia’s only goal of the competition. He captained Saudi Arabia to their first-ever appearance at the FIFA World Cup in 1994, scoring three goals in qualifying.
He played two games at the tournament (both as captain) as Saudi Arabia reached the round of 16 of the tournament which till date is their best ever performance at the World Cup.
He was named the Asian Footballer of the Year three consecutive times from 1984-1986. Majed Abdullah has scored the same number of goals as Miroslav Klose but is ranked higher in this list because of his superior goals/game average which is 0.612.
#8 Bashar Abdullah (Kuwait) - 75 goals
Bashar Abdullah is considered to be one of Kuwait’s best footballers ever and is also their all-time top scorer with 75 goals in 133 appearances in an 11-year long international career with a goals/game average of 0.564.
Having made his debut in 1996 at the age of 19, Abdullah was an integral part of what was called a mini revival in Kuwaiti football between 1996 and 1998. During his career, Abdullah helped Kuwait reach an all-time best of 24th in the FIFA rankings. He played in three AFC Asian Cups for Kuwait and helped them reach the semi-finals of the 1996 edition where he scored twice.
He also helped them reach the quarter-finals of the 2000 Asian Cup and the 2002 Asian Games where he scored a hat-trick in a 6-0 bashing of Pakistan.
He surprisingly announced his retirement from international football in 2007 aged only 30 with his last match coming in a 1-1 friendly draw against Portugal in Kuwait City where he scored an 88th-minute equalizer.
#7 Sandor Kocsis (Hungary) - 75 goals
While Ferenc Puskas is regarded to be the greatest Hungarian Footballer of all time, Sandor Kocsis is definitely one of the most prolific strikers Hungary ever produced. Had it not been for his premature international retirement, he possibly would have been ranked much higher on this list.
It took a mere 68 matches for Kocsis to score his 75 goals. His impressive goals/game average of 1.103 is the highest for footballers with more than 43 caps.
Kocsis was an integral entity of the dominant Hungary squad of the 1950s nicknamed “Magical Magyars” that won the gold medal at the 1952 Olympics at Helsinki and reached the final of the 1954 World Cup where they lost to West Germany; thus ending a 31-match unbeaten streak over four years.
Kocsis was the top scorer of the 1954 World Cup with 11 goals and was named in the Team of the Tournament alongside the other main players of the Magical Magyars including Ferenc Puskas, Gyula Grosics, Jozsef Bozsik, Nandor Hidegkuti and Zoltan Czibor.
However, the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 prompted Kocsis to end his international career prematurely at the age of 27.
#6 Godfrey Chitalu (Zambia) - 76 goals
At number six, we have Zambia’s all time top scorer Godfrey Chitalu. Considered as Zambia’s greatest player of all time and one of the best African players of his generation, Chitalu scored a total of 76 goals in 108 appearances with a goals/game average of 0.704 during his international career that lasted from 1968 till 1980.
Chitalu helped Zambia qualify for their first ever African Cup on Nations in 1974 where they went on to reach the final only to lose to Zaire after a replay.
He also represented Zambia in their first ever appearance at the Olympics in the 1980 Moscow Games where he scored both of Zambia’s goals in their 3-1 and 2-1 losses to Soviet Union and Venezuela respectively. He retired from the national team in 1980 aged 33.
He was awarded the Zambian Footballer of the Year five times and after his retirement from football, he coached the national team for three matches before the entire team including Chitalu plummeted to their deaths in a plane crash across the Gabonese coast in 1993.
#5 Pele (Brazil) - 77 goals
And at number five, we have the legendary Pele who scored 77 goals for Brazil in 91 appearances with a very prolific goals/game average of 0.846. Widely considered to be the greatest footballer of all time, Pele made his international debut for Brazil against arch-rivals Argentina in 1957 aged only 16 and scored on his debut.
He was chosen to play at the 1958 World Cup where he scored six goals in the four matches he played in and was selected in the Team of the Tournament. During the tournament, he became the youngest player to score a hat-trick at the World Cup.
The 1962 World Cup didn’t go very well for Pele as he sustained an injury in Brazil’s second match against Czechoslovakia and was sidelined for the remainder of the tournament, as Brazil won a second consecutive World Cup.
After being brutally fouled persistently by the Bulgarian players and the Portuguese players during the 1966 World Cup, Pele vowed never to play in a World Cup match, but he reversed his decision and played in the 1970 World Cup where he helped Brazil to a third World Cup, scoring four goals throughout the tournament.
Pele played his last international match in 1971 against Yugoslavia at Rio.
#4 Hussein Saeed (Iraq) - 78 goals
At number four, we have former IFA (Iraq Football Association) president Hussein Saeed.
Regarded as one of Iraq’s greatest footballers ever and one of the best Asian footballers of his generation, Saeed scored 78 goals for Iraq in 137 appearances in a 14-year long international career which makes him Iraq’s all-time top scorer as well as their second most capped player ever.
Saeed made his international debut in 1976 against Saudi Arabia at the age of 18 and soon became an integral member of the national setup. Saeed helped the national team qualify for the Olympics for the first time ever in 1980 and scored a goal against Costa Rica as Iraq prevailed to the quarter-finals, where they were beaten by eventual silver medallists East Germany.
He also helped Iraq to their first gold medal at the Asian Games where he scored thrice, including the late winner in the final against Kuwait.
Saeed captained Iraq to its first ever World Cup in 1986 after scoring eight goals in as many matches throughout the qualifiers but played only one match at the final tournament as an injury prompted the team manager to send him back home.
Saeed played his last international match in 1989 in the 1990 World Cup qualifiers against Qatar, where he scored the equalizer in a 2-2 draw before calling quits on his international career a year later.
#3 Kunishige Kamamoto (Japan) - 80 goals
At number three, it’s Japan’s all-time top scorer Kunishige Kamamoto, who was one of the most lethal strikers of his generation.
Considered to be the greatest Japanese footballer of all time and one of the finest Asian footballers of his generation, Kamamoto scored 80 goals for his country in just 84 appearances in an international career spanning from 1964-1977.
Kamamoto was still in college when he first played for the national team in 1964 and was included in the squad to play at the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo where Japan reached the quarter-finals.
Kamamoto’s finest hour with the national team came four years later during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City where he was the top scorer with seven goals and helped Japan to the bronze medal, making them the first Asian nation to win an Olympic medal in football.
Kamamoto was awarded the Japanese Footballer of the Year seven times. He retired from the national team in 1977 aged 33.
#2 Ferenc Puskas (Hungary) - 84 goals
At second position, we have the legendary Ferenc Puskas. Widely considered to be the greatest footballer of his generation and one of the greatest ever, Puskas was the captain of the great Hungarian team of the 50s nicknamed “Magical Magyars” that went unbeaten for 31 matches before the 1954 World Cup Final.
Puskas scored 84 goals for Hungary in 85 appearances in an eleven-year long international career and his stunning goals/game average of 0.99 is the third highest for any footballer who has made more than 43 international appearances.
Puskas led Hungary to the gold medal at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics where he scored four goals including the first goal in the gold medal match against Yugoslavia. However, Puskas’ finest hour with the national came two years later at the 1954 World Cup where Hungary reached the final.
In Hungary’s second group game against West Germany, Puskas suffered a hairline fracture in the ankle due to a tackle from Werner Liebrich and did not return before the final. In the final, Puskas played the entirety of the match with the hairline fracture and opened the scoring after only six minutes.
Hungary scored another goal two minutes later but West Germany staged a remarkable comeback to win the match 3-2. At the end of the World Cup, Puskas was named the Best Player of the Tournament for his performances.
He played for the national for another two years before ending his international career in 1956 alongside other key national team members due to the Hungarian Revolution. Puskas’ record of 84 goals still remains a national record.
#1 Ali Daei (Iran) - 109 goals
The record for the most number of international goals scored is actually held by an Asian footballer – Ali Daei. Ali Daei was one of the most highly regarded Asian striker of his generation and is widely considered to be Iran’s greatest footballer of all time.
In an international career lasting 13 years, Daei scored 109 goals in 149 appearances for the national which makes him the nation’s all time top scorer. His 149 appearances was a national record too before being overtaken by former Iranian captain Javad Nekounam a year ago.
Daei made his national team debut against Pakistan in 1993 at the age of 24 and scored his first international goal 19 days later in a 1994 World Cup qualifying match against Chinese Taipei. Daei’s first tournament with Iran was the 1996 AFC Asian Cup where Iran ended third and Daei was the tournament’s top scorer with eight goals.
Daei led Iran to successive gold medals at the Asian Games in 1998 and 2002, scoring eight goals in the former. Daei scored a total of nine goals during the 1998 World Cup qualifiers to help Iran reach their first ever FIFA World Cup.
Daei broke Ferenc Puskas’ record of 84 goals in 2003 and became the leading international goal scorer of all time.
He became the first footballer to score 100 international goals in 2004. Daei retired from the national team in 2006 following the 2006 FIFA World Cup.