Cristiano Ronaldo closed a contentious week on a high Thursday night, scoring twice to take him past 800 professional goals, and put himself within five goals of becoming the greatest goalscorer in the history of the game.
While goalscoring records in soccer are the subject of great debate — particularly when it comes to Pele — it is widely believed, including by FIFA, that the current record for most official goals in a professional career is held by Czech striker Josef Bican.
Bican, who played in the 1930s and 1940s, scored 805 sanctioned goals in his career. Score five more times, and Ronaldo will take Bican’s record.
Ronaldo’s goals came during Manchester United’s 3-2 Premier League win over London side Arsenal. With incoming manager Ralf Rangnick watching on in the stands due to a work permit issue, United started the game by conceding a bizarre goal.
While defending a corner, United goalkeeper David de Gea collapsed to the floor holding his foot. The referee did not spot the fallen shotstopper and play continued.
The ball fell to Arsenal’s Emile Smith Rowe who hit the ball into the undefended net. The goal was allowed to stand when it was revealed it was de Gea had not been fouled, but that his own teammate Fred had stood on his foot.
Having seen his compatriot Bruno Fernandes level the scores just before half time, Ronaldo scored his first goal of the game early in the second period.
He loitered in the box and was picked out by Marcus Rashford before finishing past Arsenal keeper Aaron Ramsdale.
The goal took him to a career total of 800. He added one more to that tally with a penalty to win the game in the 70th minute.
Ronaldo’s goal tally now stands at 801, four short of Bican’s.
Milestone goals end contentious week on a high for Ronaldo
Ronaldo’s week has been mired in controversy surrounding the Ballon d’Or, the award given to the best soccer player in the world each year.
First, Ronaldo accused the boss of the trophy of lying about him in an interview.
Earlier this week, Pascal Ferre, the editor in chief of France Football — the magazine responsible for awarding the Ballon d’Or — said in a The New York Times interview that Ronaldo once told him that his key goal in his career is to win the trophy more than Lionel Messi.
Ronaldo has won the sport’s biggest individual prize five times, while Messi won it for a record seventh time on Monday.
“Ronaldo has only one ambition, and that is to retire with more Ballons d’Or than Messi, and I know that because he has told me,” said Ferre.
In a lengthy Instagram post, Ronaldo denied Ferre’s comments, and went as far as calling him a liar.
“Pascal Ferre lied, he used my name to promote himself and to promote the publication he works for,” the Manchester United forward said.
Things got even stranger when Ronaldo appeared to endorse a post describing the fact that Messi won the trophy as “theft.”
“Facts,” Ronaldo’s official Instagram account commented underneath a lengthy fan post about his achievements.