LONDON. — The football world is once again celebrating another landmark moment in the incredible, record-breaking career of Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portuguese captain became the first European footballer to score a century of international goals.
The ageless Juventus superstar scored his 100th and 101st international goals to power his country to a 2-0 victory over Sweden in a Nations League match at the Friends Arena in Stockholm on Tuesday night.
He is only the second ever male player to score over 100 goals for his country after Ali Daei of Iran.
“I thought we were going to celebrate 100 goals today,’’ football icon, Pele, tweeted. “But it was actually 101! Congratulations @Cristiano, as you reach new heights in your journey.’’
His former Real Madrid teammate, Marcelo, joined the party.
“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,’’ said the Brazilian.
“I know what you’ve done for your national team and what you keep doing.”
His Portuguese teammate, Nani, said Ronaldo was the GOAT.
“It’s a fantastic feat, something normal for you. For me, it gives me enormous pride to be part of your story. The story of the greatest of all time,’’ said Nani.
Ronaldo’s former Manchester United teammate, Rio Ferdinand, said the superstar’s achievements were crazy.
“Some players don’t even get 100 goals in their whole career,’’ said Ferdinand. “This isn’t even about your club goals, this is just the national team. It’s crazy.”
And, amid all the celebrations, Ronaldo said he was hungry for more goals.
“I managed to beat this milestone of 100 goals and now for record (109),’’ the Portuguese skipper, who has scored against 42 different countries, said.
He is the highest goal-scorer in Portugal’s history, scoring almost double the number of goals than the nearest person, Pauleta, who has netted 47 goals.
Lionel Messi has 70 goals in 138 appearances for Argentina. In April 2017, Ronaldo etched his name further into the history books when he became the first footballer to reach 100 European goals.
Now, three years later, he has taken his goal-scoring feat to another level.
Zambian legend Godfrey “Ucar’’ Chitalu (79) and India’s Sunil Chhetri (72) are some of the highest scoring players in international football history.
“What I have done in my career speaks for itself. No, I have to prove nothing to anyone, and when I have to prove it, I show it on the pitch,’’ said Ronaldo.
“I am very happy.
“Firstly, because the team won, which was the goal we had. Then the 100 mark and then the 101, with two goals, makes me very happy.
“Now the future is only for God. I feel good, I feel good for playing with these young players.” He, however, was concerned the milestone was reached in a game played in an empty stadium. Playing without fans is like going to the circus and not seeing clowns,” the 35-year-old said.
“It’s like going to the garden and not seeing flowers. I like when I’m jeered in away matches, it motivates me. But health has to come first and we need to respect that. But it’s sad.”
Ronaldo now has 101 goals for the national team in 165 appearances and is the top international goal-scorer among the active players.
The rhythm of Ronaldo’s international goal-scoring are not dissimilar to his statistics in the UEFA Champions League, where he is also more dangerous after half-time.
He is oddly goal-shy between the 11th and 20th minutes with Portugal, but piles on the goals between the 76th minute and full time.
How has Ronaldo scored his international goals?
Ronaldo’s right foot is his most potent weapon in international football; his last 16 goals for Portugal have all been with his right leg, and he is slightly more potent with his head than he is with his left foot.
Set plays and penalties account for approximately one in five of his 101 international strikes (left foot — 22; right foot -55; head – 24; direct free-kicks – 10; open play – 80; penalties – 11)
Against which sides has Cristiano Ronaldo scored international goals?
Ronaldo’s goals against Sweden that took him to 101 goals were his sixth and seventh against that nation, the equal most along with Lithuania.
He has played 15 games against the “Big Five” European nations — 2 vs England, 3 vs France, 3 vs Germany, 2 vs Italy and 5 vs Spain — but only scored against Spain, getting a celebrated hat-trick against La Roja at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
His goals have come against Andorra (50; Argentina (1); Armenia (5); Azerbaijan (2); Belgium (3); Bosnia (2); Cameroon (2); Croatia (1); Cyprus (2); Czech Republic (2); Denmark (3); Ecuador (1); Egypt (2); Estonia (4); Faroe Islands (4); Finland (1); Ghana (1); Greece (1); Hungary (4); Iceland (1); Iran (1); Kazakhstan (2); Latvia (5); Lithuania (7); Luxembourg (5); Morocco (1); Netherlands (4); New Zealand (1); Northern Ireland (3); North Korea (1); Panama (1); Poland (1); Russia (3); Saudi Arabia (2); Serbia (1); Slovakia (1); Spain (3); Sweden (7); Switzerland (3); Ukraine (1); Wales (1).