Opinion

Ronaldo underlines his status as greatest goal machine of all time

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Cristiano Ronaldo's status in the hierarchy of the world game continues to be the subject of heated debate but there can be no question about his reputation as the finest goal scorer of all time.

You can argue all you like if the Portuguese superstar is or is not a better footballer than Argentina's Lionel Messi. It's a matter of opinion, after all.

But when it comes to facts and figures - and how they were attained - Ronaldo would have to be regarded as the game's best goal machine in history.

His two splendid strikes against Sweden in the UEFA Nations League took his tally from 165 full internationals to 101 and made him the first European to reach a century of goals.

This phenomenal tally complements the 450 goals he scored in his club career that took him from Sporting Club to Juventus via Manchester United and Real Madrid.

His club and country total of 551 goals from 742 matches gives him an average of .74 goals a match ... that's three goals for every four matches over a period of 18 seasons.

Ronaldo's 101 strikes for the national team take him to within eight goals of Iran hero Ali Daei's 109 from 149 matches.

Portugal's talisman will no doubt surpass Daei's tally in the coming season but he does not need to do so to be seen as the greatest of all time.

Daei will always be remembered as one of Asia's most formidable strikers who spent most of his career in Iran and the Middle East, except for five seasons in Germany where he scored a less impressive 19 goals in 107 matches for Arminia Bielefeld, Bayern Munich and Hertha Berlin.

With all respect to Asian football, however, I'm sure that most reasonable fans would recognise the level of difficulty surrounding Ronaldo's feats when assessing the merits of both strikers.

It's a bit like saying Australia is a better footballing country than Scotland because it regularly qualifies for the FIFA World Cup while the Scots hardly ever make it.

I'm sure Scotland would dearly love to swap their qualification process with that of the Australians.

Brazilian duo Romario and Pele, and Germany's Gerd Muller, might have something to say about the suggestion that Ronaldo is the top man when it comes to scoring goals.

Romario's aggregate of 364 goals in 518 matches gives him an average of .70 goals a match which is not too inferior to Ronaldo's.

Pele's total of 618 goals from 652 matches gives him an average of .94 goals a game but doubts have emerged over the validity of some of the matches he played in. And 'O Rei' was a better overall player, anyway, and cannot really be regarded as a goal scorer.

Muller netted 555 times in 617 matches for an average of .89 goals a game but a portion of his club goals came in pre-Champions League days when Bayern Munich often met easy pickings in the first rounds of the competition.

Ronaldo never had such a luxury and he earned every goal he has scored, at least at club level.

Ronaldo does not do tap-ins and his brace against the Swedes that gave the Nations League holders a 2-0 victory in Stockholm perfectly illustrated his mastery of the ball when it comes to sticking it into the net.

In the first half he took a free kick three metres outside the penalty area and effortlessly floated the ball over the wall and it dipped past the outstretched arm of goalkeeper Robin Olsen.

It was vintage Ronaldo - "it does not get better than this", the commentator said. Well, it did, with 20 minutes to go.

Receiving a square ball from Joao Felix on the edge of the box he looked up and nonchalantly poked the ball over Olsen's body and into the far corner of the net as if he was at training having a bit of fun.

It was a sublime goal that smacked of positive arrogance and supreme confidence in his ability.

Ronaldo may or may not be the best player in the world but I do not think the world has seen or will ever see a relentless scorer like him.