Dubai: Legendary Pele led the praise for Cristiano Ronaldo after the Portuguese star became just the second male player to cross the 100-goal mark in international football.
Ronaldo became only the second men’s player to score 100 goals with their national team by firing home the opener in Portugal’s 2-0 win in Uefa Nations League against Sweden late on Tuesday.
Entering his 165th match with 99 goals for Portugal, Ronaldo scored his 100th on a brilliant freekick that went over the wall and into the upper corner of the goal while his second was even more astounding as the ball looped into a corner from outside the box.
Iran’s Ali Daei, with 109 goals, is the only other men’s player to score over 100 goals for his national team. Canada’s Christine Sinclair holds the women’s record with 186 international goals.
“Eu pensava que iriamos comemorar 100 gols hoje. Mas foram 101! Parabens @Cristiano, por cada passo adiante em sua jornada! (I thought we were going to celebrate 100 goals today. But it was actually 101! Congratulations @Cristiano, as you reach new heights in your journey.” Pele tweeted in Portuguese.
Marcelo, a former teammate of Ronaldo at Real Madrid, was effusive in his praise as well. “My brother that football gave me, I’m so happy to be able to be here, congratulating you on 100 goals for the national team. I know what you’re doing for your national team and what you keep doing,” the Brazilian said.
Nuno Gomes, a former teammate in the national team, simply tweeted his hugs to the 35-year-old Sporting Lisbon star hailing from Madeira. “I want to send you a big hug and give you my congratulations, on reaching 100 goals on national team duty. It was a pleasure to have been your teammate, and you’re the pride of all Portuguese,” Gomes tweeted.
“Congratulations to @Cristiano on a century of international goals for @SelecaoPortugal,” the official handle of Manchester United joined in along with current club Juventus.
“100 goals, it’s the landmark of only a dazzling phenomenon, a record breaker like you. It’s the milestone of a monster,” wowed another former teammate Deco.
Perhaps, former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand summed up the achievement in the best way. “Some players don’t even get 100 goals in their whole career. This isn’t even about your club goals, this is just the national team. It’s crazy,” Ferdinand lauded.
Almost half of Ronaldo’s goals – 49 goals in 47 matches - have come since his 30th birthday. Portugal could have won by a much larger margin, had Bruno Fernandes not hit the bar and Robin Olsen not saved off CR7 before the striker was substituted in the 81st minute.
The next top-scoring current players are India’s Sunil Chhetri (72) and Argentina’s Lionel Messi (70).