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Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo has set a new record for the number of international goals scored. Image Credit: REUTERS

Dubai: He is labelled as the greatest footballer of all time, and unless your name is Lionel Messi, you are inclined to agree. The Portuguese superstar has countless records to his name - many of which will likely never be beaten.

His professional career started in 2002 and it continues to flourish despite him being 36 now. Some of his milestones include 134 goals in the Champions League (14 more than the Argentine...), more final wins (5) than any other player, and the single-season scoring record (17 in 2013/14). These records may sound like he is rather selfish like all the top strikers in the world need to be to grab the goals but Ronaldo is not as self-centered on the pitch as you may think because no-one can beat his total of 42 assists.

He holds the record for international hat-tricks (9), is the first footballer to have played at 5 European Championships (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016 and 2020 and scored in every single one of course) and has been included in the UEFA Team of the Year on an incredible 15 times.

He has records away from football too as he is listed in the Guinness World Record Book of 2021 as being the most liked person on Facebook with 124,726,150 likes while on Instagram he has 336 million followers - more than the entire US population! He is also the most popular sports star on Twitter with 93.9 million followers.

It begs the question - are there any records left for him to break? He seems to have done it all but his latest, the most number of goals scored in international football, may be the best of the lot. His late brace against Ireland last night during their World Cup qualifier meant he overtook Ali Daei’s 109 international goals to set a new record of 111. He had been level with the Iran legend since June when he grabbed two goals in a group game against France during Euro 2020 but now he has surpassed it.

It is an incredible achievement and something he would not have envisaged at all when he was an unknown 18-year-old back in 2003 when he originally joined Manchester United. He won the lot with them before he left in 2009 but now he has returned to Old Trafford not just as a superstar but a slick-haired global brand.

Ronaldo timeline

Even though he is nearing the big Four 0, it looks like he is getting better with age. While other players in their late 30s head off to play out their final days in easier leagues, Ronaldo is still playing at the very top and is barely breaking sweat. When he joined Juventus in 2018, the Italian club’s medical staff concluded he had the body of a 23-year-old. Ok, that blistering pace may no longer be there but he is still faster than most. And what’s more, the goals are not drying up either. Last year he was the top scorer in Serie A with 29 goals – 5 more than Chelsea’s 97.5 million pound man Romelu Lukaku’s total of 24.

Look! Record-breaker gallery

Ronaldo is at the age where strikers are meant to be well into their decline but Utd are confident he can still produce the goods in the English Premier League. And with abs like his, there is no doubt he will plunder in the goals for the Red Devils yet again. In the twilight years of his career he still looks as fit as ever and it is thanks to a diet plan that features swordfish while he takes five naps per day on top of getting eight hours of sleep every night. At the gym, he follows a Pilates-based routine that focuses on resistance work to strengthen his core while he is a big fan of swimming too. And the final secret behind his supreme physical condition is to avoid alcohol at all costs.

It’s thanks to all of these extreme measures that he remains at his zenith in football and there is every chance he will continue to bang in the goals when he hits 40.