An almost inevitable debate broke out after some celebrated Ronaldo as the all-time top scorer in football history on Wednesday night, when he netted the 760th goal of his astonishing career to put Juventus on their way to Italian Super Cup glory.
Although some records put Czech legend Josef Bican’s total at 759, the country’s football association has now launched a staunch public counter-claim by arguing that one of their greatest ever players scored 821 times in his remarkable run.
“The History and Statistics committee of the Czech FA counted all the goals scored by the legendary Josef Bican,” began a tweet by the Czech Football Federation, which released an in-depth statement outlining why Ronaldo is yet to reach his latest landmark.
“We can declare he scored 821 goals in official matches. Goals from matches in the first and second leagues, national cups, the Central European Cup and national team selections are included.”
The saga is reminiscent of the furore that surrounded Ronaldo and his chief rival, Messi, when they were widely accepted to have recently broken Pele’s records at club and individual levels.
Pele himself appeared to claim that he had scored well over 1,000 goals, resulting in a prolonged round of mockery as fans joked that the fanciful total included goals scored outside of official competitions, including in his back garden and on computer game FIFA.
Ronaldo himself has occasionally been accused of using international friendlies against minnows to pad his goals record, with his critics pointing to those efforts against weaker opposition as a means to argue that Messi is the better of the two modern greats.
Czech bosses appeared to nod to that debate when they elaborated: “On the contrary, friendly matches are not included in the statistics, with the exception of the national team.
“It can be stated with full seriousness that this is a number that corresponds to the current state of the possibility of verifying all data, so it is the most accurate number possible.”
Santos, the club side that Pele spent most of his career at, put Pele’s total at 1,091 – a total that it would be almost impossible to envisage Ronaldo eclipsing.
Should he continue at his current rate of around a goal a game, Ronaldo could be expected to score the required 62 goals that would satisfy the Czech record books within two years.
The superstar striker made no public mention of the record on Thursday, although he did salute another man who has routinely broken footballing records – thanking veteran Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, whose accolades include the most appearances by a player in the Italian Serie A.