Dec 3 (BBC) – Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player in history to score 800 top-level career goals when he struck twice for Manchester United in a 3-2 win over Arsenal on Thursday.
It was a typical Ronaldo response to recent suggestions that his style of play might not suit the pressing approach favoured by incoming interim manager Ralf Rangnick, who was at Old Trafford for the first time since his appointment to watch the Portuguese reach the remarkable landmark.
And the German cannot fail to have been impressed by the 36-year-old.
The numbers: 1,097 games, 801 goals.
Ronaldo’s double took him to 130 goals across two spells for United, adding to five for Sporting Lisbon, 450 for Real Madrid, 101 for Juventus and 115 for Portugal.
He is the all-time top scorer in men’s international football, in the Champions League and for Real Madrid.
The Premier League’s all-time top scorer Alan Shearer said on Amazon Prime Video: “You just have to sit there and say ‘wow’ and applaud the guy.
“It is his determination. It is very difficult to get to the top but it is staying there too. You have to get up in the morning and go again and the whole world is looking for you to perform every week. It is just phenomenal what he has done.”
Ronaldo’s United and Portugal team-mate Bruno Fernandes added: “Incredible. We all know he is improving game by game, year by year. He wants to keep being the best and that’s what he did. He knows how to self-motivate.”
Is Ronaldo the top scorer ever?
There is no central database to establish football’s all-time top scorer, but Ronaldo certainly tops the charts for official games at a high level.
The Czech football association says Josef Bican, who played in Czechoslovakia and Austria, scored 821 goals in official matches. Elsewhere his tally is placed at 805 – but those include reserve-team and non-official international goals.
Brazil legends Pele and Romario separately claim to have scored more than 1,000 goals each, but filter out friendlies and those numbers drop down to the 700s.
Unofficial statisticians RSSSF say Pele (769), Romario and Ferenc Puskas (both 761) are the players nearest to Ronaldo at the elite end of football.
Lionel Messi is next on 756 goals for Argentina (80), Barcelona (672) and Paris St-Germain (four).
Ronaldo has scored more than 20 goals against five teams, all Spanish – Sevilla (27), Atletico Madrid (25), Getafe (23) and Barcelona and Celta Vigo (20 each).
He has hit double figures against 19 sides, including Tottenham (11). He has now scored eight against Arsenal.
His goals on Thursday were a huge boost for the watching Rangnick, whose new club fell behind in controversial circumstances when Emile Smith Rowe scored while United keeper David de Gea was on the ground injured.
But Fernandes equalised before Ronaldo scored from a Marcus Rashford pass. And then after Martin Odegaard’s leveller, the veteran netted a penalty to win the game.
Fernandes used to be United’s penalty taker before Ronaldo rejoined this summer from Juventus but was happy to cede duties.
“We didn’t have a chat,” Fernandes told the BBC. “I missed the last one so I trust him in the same way I trust myself. It was time for Cristiano to take the penalty because I took the last one and missed it.”
What now for Ronaldo?
Rangnick now takes over from Michael Carrick as Manchester United’s interim manager until the end of the season.
He is known for a high-pressing style of football, while Ronaldo has done less pressing than any attacker per 90 minutes in the Premier League this season, excluding those who have played less than five minutes.
But Carrick, who has left the club after three unbeaten games as caretaker boss, said before the game that it was “maybe a myth” that Ronaldo does not press.
BBC Radio 5 Live pundit and former England goalkeeper Rob Green said: “Rangnick doesn’t have to play Ronaldo. He can do whatever he wants.
“Can Ronaldo press? Well, he turned around and said ‘look at that run I made in the last couple of minutes – the length of the pitch to get into the penalty area – I can do this. I can run’.
“He’s a fit guy. [They will] sit down with the two of them – the manager and Ronaldo – and say ‘we’re going to do it this way. Are you on board?’
“I’m sure he’ll say yes.”