Cristiano Ronaldo was up to his old tricks for Portugal this week, extending his international world record by scoring his 128th international goal. But he got it against Liechtenstein, a country with a population roughly equivalent to Rutland.
That immediately set us to thinking. We’ve already exposed the abject fraudulence of so-called elite goalscorers Harry Kane and Erling Haaland and Lionel Messi, so surely we can do the same with this embarrassing stat-padder?
We did warn you this would turn into a series. This time it really is an awful lot of goals to get rid of, though.
Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal goals starting total: 128
The 20 Penalty goals
We’re always going to kick off with this lowest-hanging of all the fraudulent goal fruit. Twelve yards out and nobody’s even allowed to defend it, apart from the goalkeeper who isn’t allowed to do so properly? Embarrassing for any player to count these on their career stats, but especially so for someone who still leaves us with over 100 goals to get rid of even after getting shot of these very obvious non-counters.
New Ronaldo goal tally: 108
The 19 Friendly goals
Wonderful news here that only one of Ronaldo’s 20 goals in friendlies have come from the penalty spot, allowing us to immediately get rid of another pretty hefty chunk of goals. The sheer longevity of Ronaldo’s career at play in that number, because there just aren’t as many friendlies now as there once were thanks to your Nations Leagues and such.
As we said in our Harry Kane Fraudulence Revealer, we simply do not count friendly games in other sports or indeed in club football. Exhibition games have no place clogging up stats which should be reserved for proper meaningful competitive games. Ronaldo here loses goals against Argentina, Croatia, Netherlands and Belgium – clearly not proper goals – as well as two against Saudi Arabia, one against Panama, another against Luxembourg, a couple against Estonia and one against Andorra.
New Ronaldo goal tally: 89
The eight Luxembourg goals
Luxembourg appear to be Portugal’s San Marino. Kane has scored daft numbers of his goals against San Marino, a level to which – to his credit – Ronaldo has never lowered himself. He has, though, scored 11 goals against Luxembourg. Embarrassing, frankly. Two were penalties, and one in a friendly alas, but it’s still eight goals taken off the total and leaves Ronaldo barely ahead of Neymar (note to self: add Neymar to the list) on the international goal count.
New Ronaldo goal tally: 81
The 14 Andorra, Faroe Islands, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Kazakhstan and Liechtenstein goals
Just because Ronaldo has never dipped his bread Kane-style against San Marino doesn’t mean he hasn’t also helped himself to some other goals against Europe’s lighter weights. As well as all those goals against Luxembourg there are another 19 against this lot. One of his Andorra goals was in a friendly, but the others all came in nominally competitive games. Thanks to Portugal’s occasionally esoteric (if always ultimately successful) approach to major-tournament qualification, some of those games were actually competitive. But nothing so spurious as that can save them from the chop. Four of the rest have already been dealt with by eliminating penalties, but it’s another double-figure showing for us and Ronaldo’s seemingly impregnable world-record goal tally is suddenly reduced to fewer international goals than Robbie Keane.
New Ronaldo goal tally: 67
The five goals in (other) games where Portugal scored 6+
Doesn’t get rid of as many as you might hope, with a lot of these flabbiest of goals coming in friendly action or from the spot. Very harshly it gets rid of two quite important goals – that put Portugal 1-0 and 3-1 up in what was for a long time a tense Euro 2012 qualification play-off against Bosnia that in the end ended up 6-2 against 10 men, as well as a couple of goals relatively early in an absurd 7-1 win over Russia in 2006 World Cup qualifying. More righteously, it chalks off perhaps the stat-paddiest non-penalty goal ever, when Ronaldo ended a two-year competitive international scoring drought (even in friendlies he managed only a single goal against Finland in that time) with an 87th-minute sixth in a 7-0 win over North Korea at the 2010 World Cup.
New Ronaldo goal tally: 62
The seven so-called Nations League So-Called goals
We don’t mind the Nations League, as international break football goes. It does make for more competitive games and if you can’t find humour in all those ‘England are appointing Sam Allardyce so they don’t get relegated’ banters turning out to be unexpectedly prophetic then what is wrong with you?
But we will be dead in the cold, cold ground before we acknowledge it as a proper major tournament. Glorified friendlies are still friendlies. And it gets rid of seven more goals, scored in a weirdly highly concentrated manner in just three of his 11 games in the Nations League. Five of those goals came in two games against Switzerland – including a semi-final hat-trick that is extremely funny to chalk off – and a couple more against Sweden. At this point, Ronaldo’s goal record dips below Harry Kane’s England total, as long as you pretend Kane’s proper England total isn’t zero, which it is.
New Ronaldo goal tally: 55
The one Confederations Cup goal
It’s less of a tournament than the Nations League. Sadly, CR7’s goal against the mighty New Zealand came from the spot and has already been struck from the record. But we do get rid of a goal against Russia three days earlier and every little helps.
New Ronaldo goal tally: 54
The 21 Euro Qualifiers Are A Formality These Days goals
Now this is a cheat even by the standards of what’s gone before, because Ronaldo’s career goes back comfortably to the days before qualifying for the Euros was a 24-team open goal. But we’re still getting rid of the lot, because we’re talking about a whopping number of goals and needs must. Forty-one of Ronaldo’s Portugal goals have come in European Championship qualifiers alone. For contrast, Alan Shearer scored 30 goals for England all in. But those count. Ronaldo’s, as we’ve established, do not. Alas, 19 of these goals have already fallen by the wayside for being penalties or against Your Luxembourgs and Your Liechtensteins or in games where Portugal scored six goals or some combination of the above. But it still lops a healthy 21 more goals off our total, bringing us far closer to our target.
New Ronaldo goal tally: 33
The six Portugal Didn’t Even Win goals
Now this is unusually controversial in Ronaldo’s case, because he and Portugal devoted an entire tournament’s worth of banter to proving you can win a tournament without really bothering to win games at Euro 2016. But it’s a wildly undignified way to win a pot, so we’re scrubbing off two goals in a 3-3 draw against Hungary that secured Portugal’s back-door route to a last-16 clash with Croatia in that tournament. We can also get rid of Ronaldo’s first ever international goal, an injury-time consolation in a prophetic Euro 2004 group-stage defeat to Greece.
Arguably even funnier is the fact we can bin off two-thirds of a hat-trick against Spain at Russia 2018 because his clown-shoes defence couldn’t keep the ball out at the other end (one of his three goals was, of course, a penalty), while the opening goal in what would turn out to be a miserable 4-2 defeat to Germany at Euro 2020 also disappears from the record. Alas, his two goals in the 2-2 draw with France at that tournament were shameful penalties and already dealt with back at the start of this before we started seriously questioning the life choices that led us to this moment.
New Ronaldo goal tally: 27
The 27 Non-Elite Opposition Goals
Right. This is where it starts to get desperate (‘starts’) but also extremely productive because we can get rid of all Ronaldo’s remaining goals in one wildly unfair swoop. We’ve got rid of penalties. We’ve got rid of friendlies, tinpot tournaments, European qualifiers, goals in games Portugal didn’t even win. So what now? All we’re left with at this point is stuff even vaguer and more nonsensical than that little lot, but the big ol’ fraud really has scored an awful lot of goals over an awfully long time. Nobody said this would be easy. What we’ve come up with here is the handy and fruitful catch-all ‘non-elite’, which is for our purposes defined as any team never to win a World Cup. This is a tough school, but we really do need to get rid of some quite important tournament goals against the Netherlands here. Not our fault they always bottle finals, is it?
We’re off to a great start here because straight away we get rid of the opening goal in the Euro 2004 semi-final win over the Dutch, immediately giving the game away for our teak-tough definition of ‘elite’.
We’ve got rid of several of Ronaldo’s seven 2006 World Cup qualification goals already, but the remaining five against Estonia and Slovakia now also fall by the wayside. A goal in a 3-1 victory over the Czechs at Euro 2008 need no longer trouble us, and nor do two more goals against the Netherlands at Euro 2012 and another against the Czechs four years on from his previous, now exposed as fraudulent, effort against them.
Two hat-tricks in qualification for the 2014 World Cup are easy meat for us here, because neither Northern Ireland nor Sweden have ever won the World Cup, have they? A fourth goal against Sweden from that qualification campaign also goes. Racking them up now, aren’t we? A goal in a rare Portugal win on their way to Euro 2016 ‘glory’ – against Wales – can be cheerfully written off as well.
Qualification for the 2018 World Cup is another rich seam. Three of Ronaldo’s four goals across two games against Latvia can go – the other, obviously, a penalty – as can two against a Hungary side we’re suddenly very relieved didn’t win the World Cup in the olden days when they were good.
Everyone loves Morocco now, but they still didn’t win the World Cup last year and were nowhere near doing so in 2018 or ever before, so Ronaldo’s goal against them in Russia is gone. Four of Ronaldo’s five goals at Euro 2020 have already been expunged, but his other, non-penalty goal against Hungary now also disappears.
Last but by no means least, both those absurdly late goals in the from-behind 2-1 win over Republic of Ireland in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup? Bye-bye, you cheap irrelevances.
New Ronaldo goal tally: 0