Cristiano Ronaldo becomes the first player to score in 5 separate World Cup finals
The Portuguese ace wrote his name in the history books again as he found the net in his fifth World Cup - the first player to achieve the feat.
As far as football dreams go, scoring at the World Cup finals has got to be pretty high up the list. Several players have represented their country at multiple different World Cup finals, but only a handful have actually played and scored in four different editions of the tournament. Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player to play in and score, in five different editions of the men’s edition of the World Cup at the finals stage with his second half penalty against Ghana today. A record that has stood for over half a century...
Most players’ international careers don’t last long enough for them to even have a chance of starring in four or five World Cups. There are a number of reasons for that - injuries, a drop in form or their team fails to qualify. Just five players have played at least one game in five different World Cup finals - Mexico’s Andrés Guardado could become the sixth if he gets a run-out in either of the next two games against Argentina and Saudi Arabia.
Players who have played in multiple World Cups
Even fewer have managed to play in and score in four separate World Cup finals. Up until Qatar 2022, just four players had managed to do so - Pelé, Uwe Seeler, Miroslav Klose and Cristiano Ronaldo. They were joined just the other day by Lionel Messi who tucked in a penalty in Argentina’s opener against Saudi Arabia to take his personal World Cup tally to seven in five different editions (2006, 2010, 2014, 2018, 2022). But Messi didn’t find the net at all during his five appearances at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
World Cup goals record set and equalled at Brazil 70
Curiously, the record for scoring in four different editions of the World Cup finals was set by two players on the same day and within minutes of each other. The first player to score in four different World Cup finals was West Germany’s legendary striker Uwe Seeler, who played and scored in the same World Cup finals as Pelé - Sweden 1958, France 1962, England 1966 and Mexico 1970. His debut goal was against Argentina in the group stage on 8 June 1958. Seeler set the record, aged 33, equalising for West Germany on 56 minutes in their opening game against Morocco. He scored another two goals at Mexico 70, his last tournament, to take his overall tally to nine.
On the same day over in Guadalajara, Brazil had kicked off their opener against Czechoslovakia at the same time and were being held 1-1 when Pelé put the Seleção in front on 69 minutes, equalling Seeler’s record in the process
O Rei had opened his World Cup account 12 years earlier in the quarter final against Wales at the Ullevi in Gothenburg on 19 June 1958, the first of 12 goals scored during the final stage.
Players who have scored in different editions of the World Cup
Cristiano’s figures at the World Cup
Cristiano Ronaldo made his debut in the World Cup finals in the first group game against Angola on 11 June 2006. He was replaced by Costinha on the hour but celebrated his debut on the winning side even if he didn’t manage to get on the scoresheet himself (Pauleta scored the game’s only goal).
His first goal at Germany 2006 came in the next game, a penalty against Iran six days later. Portugal made it all the way to the semi-finals where they were eliminated by France but Ronaldo had no luck in front of goal and had to wait another four years for his next one, which came in the dying moments of a 7-0 demolition of North Korea at South Africa 2010.
It was a similar story at Brazil 2014 - he had to wait until the final group game - against none other than Ghana, to get off the mark but it was too little too late as Portugal, who had lost to Germany and drew against the USMNT, were already on their way home, eliminated on goal difference.
Russia 2018 turned out to be far more productive for Ronaldo, who left Real Madrid to join Juventus barely over a week after Portugal’s eventual elimination to Uruguay in the Round of 16. He opened with a breathtaking hat trick against Spain and followed that up by hitting the winner in the next group game against Morocco to take his tournament haul to four and his overall tally to seven.
Ronaldo broke the all-time record in Portugal’s opening game against Ghana - his 18th World Cup appearance. Portugal were awarded a penalty on 64 minutes after Salisu had brought Ronaldo down inside the box. The Portuguese skipper stepped up to slot in his first goal at Qatar 2022 and eighth goal in five different World Cup finals - 2006, 2010, 2014, 2018, 2022. It’s been a turbulent week for him with his contract ripped up by United but the record will bring him some solace.
In the Women’s World Cup, several players have managed to score in five different World Cup finals including Marta (Brazil - 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019), and Christine Sinclair (Canada - 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019).