The 10 highest international football goalscorers of all time

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Siiiii! Who is the highest international goalscorer of all time? Cristiano Ronaldo has only one man left to beat – and is closing in after a four-goal haul against Lithuania

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9.= Majed Abdullah, Saudi Arabia (147 caps, 71 goals)

Abdullah burst onto the scene as a 17-year-old, scoring seven goals in three games against Russia, Bulgaria and Iran in a 1977 junior tournament. He netted twice on his debut for the senior Saudi team, and managed 71 goals in 147 games between 1977 and 1994.

At the 1984 Olympics he scored against a Brazil side containing a young Dunga; four years later, he helped Saudi Arabia draw with Argentina in the Australia Bicentenary Gold Cup (we all remember that, right?). Later that year, Abdullah rubbed salt into England’s post Euro-1988 wounds (below)...

9.= Miroslav Klose, Germany (137 caps, 71 goals)

The beanpole hitman scored on his international debut, headed five goals at the 2002 World Cup (a record for headers) and broke Ronaldo’s tournament record as Germany smashed Brazil 7-1 in his penultimate World Cup match. At the end of his last appearance, he held up the World Cup at his fourth attempt.

Between 2001 and 2014, Klose scored 71 goals from 137 internationals and netted his 50th goal to kick-start Germany’s 2010 World Cup demolition of England. Their next match, the quarter-final, was his 100th for Germany and Klose scored twice as Die Mannschaft thrashed Argentina 4-0.

He nearly didn’t play for them at all, though: Klose was born in Poland to German parents and couldn’t speak the language when he first arrived in the country.

9.= Kinnah Phiri, Malawi (115 caps, 71 goals)

Records are a little sketchy where Phiri is concerned, but the reliable claims that he plundered 71 in an international career that spanned just over eight years. 

The striker, who later managed Malawai from 2009-13, struck 43 goals in 55 friendlies, including all five in a 5-1 win over Botswana in October 1977. He'll be best remembered for his efforts in helping Malawi win the 1978 East and Central Africa Challenge (CECAFA) Cup, though, having scored in four of his nation's six games – including the final.   

8.= Sandor Kocsis, Hungary (68 caps, 75 goals)

Back in the late-'40s and early-to mid-'50s, playing Hungary must have given defenders nightmares. Even if you kept Ferenc Puskas quiet, you still had to deal with another of the world’s most prolific goalscorers. 

Sandor Kocsis actually had a better goals-to-game ratio than the legendary Puskas – 1.10 per game, which equated to a net-busting 75 goals in 68 internationals. That’s up there with West German great Gerd Muller (who misses out on this list because he only played 62 internationals for his 68 goals and retired from international football aged 28).

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Kocsis scored seven hat-tricks for Hungary, and grabbed four goals in the famous 8-3 destruction of West Germany at the 1954 World Cup. He top-scored in that tournament with 11 goals from five games. 

8.= Bashar Abdullah, Kuwait (133 caps, 75 goals)

No relation to Majed. Part of the Kuwait team that won two Gulf Cups and reached the semi-finals of the AFC Asian Cup, Bashar scored 75 goals in 133 games between 1996 and 2007.

In 2000, the Bash (presumably) scored eight times in Kuwait’s 20-0 victory over Bhutan. Four days later, he put five past Nepal, and in the early noughties regularly terrorised the likes of Singapore, Palestine and Uzbekistan. Helpful opposition for a list like this.

7. Pele, Brazil (92 caps, 77 goals)

Pele World Cup 1970

Add the 18 goals Pele scored for Brazil in 21 unofficial games, and he’d be second on this list. In official internationals, Pele scored 77 times in 92 games – and he wasn’t even an out-and-out striker.

Aged 17, he netted twice in the 1958 World Cup Final against Sweden, after a hat-trick against France in the semis. Pele scored six more international hat-tricks, and in four World Cups played 14 games, scoring 12 and setting up another 10.

He got Brazil’s 100th World Cup goal with a header in the 1970 final against Italy. Timing is everything.

ICONS 17-year-old Pele makes Brazil's own psychologist look silly (1958)

6. Hussein Saeed, Iraq (137 caps, 78 goals)

Saeed is unsurprisingly hailed as Iraq's greatest player of the century, having scored for fun and racked up a record number of caps for his country. 

The striker, a one-club man who played for Al-Talaba his entire career, enjoyed a particularly prolific 1984 for his country by helping them to the 1984 Gulf Cup of Nations. There, he struck braces against hosts Oman and Kuwait, plus a hat-trick to sink Saudi Arabia. 

He retired in 1990, aged 32, following Iraq's withdrawal from that year's Gulf Cup competition... because of the refereeing. The big sulks. 

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