Football

More international goals than Ronaldo & Messi: Meet Christine Sinclair, Canada’s record-breaking star


Ronaldo levelled Ali Daei’s record with a brace against France in Portugal’s final Euro 2020 group game, but he isn’t the all-time top scorer yet

Cristiano Ronaldo’s brace against France at Euro 2020 has made him the greatest international goalscorer in men’s football, level with Iran’s Ali Daei.

As of that game against France, Ronaldo has scored 109 times in 179 games for his country, three of those in his nation’s triumphant Euro 2016 campaign and seven coming at World Cup finals.

However, in order to become football’s all-time top international goalscorer, Ronaldo needs to chase down the incredible tally of Christine Sinclair.

Who is Christine Sinclair?

Christine Sinclair is a forward, primarily playing as an attacking midfielder, who is the captain of both the Canada women’s national team and the Portland Thorns. 

The 38-year-old has played in North America for her whole career, selected by FC Gold Pride as the eighth overall pick in the 2008 Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) expansion draft after starring for the Portland Pilots while attending university.

She moved to Western New York Flash in 2011 and then joined the Thorns two years later, for the inaugural National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season, where she has remained ever since. 

Sinclair has played at five World Cup finals and two Olympic Games for her country, winning two bronze medals. She has won both the WPS Championship and the NWSL Championship twice, lifted the NWSL Challenge Cup in 2021 and is widely regarded as Canada’s greatest player of all time.

What is Christine Sinclair’s international goalscoring record?

Sinclair’s record currently stands at 187 goals in 303 games for Canada. She set a new international goalscoring record in January 2020, scoring her 184th and 185th international goals against St Kitts and Nevis in the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship.

“Thank you to everyone for all the messages. I’m slightly overwhelmed,” she posted on Twitter afterwards. “Thank you to all my teammates, coaches, staff, friends and family, 185 would not have been possible without you.”

The previous record was held by Abby Wambach, the former U.S. women’s national team striker who twice won Olympic gold and also won the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Wambach scored 184 goals in 255 games for her country before retiring in 2015.

Christine Sinclair Canada Women 2020

What other records does Christine Sinclair hold?

As well as being her country’s all-time top goalscorer, Sinclair also has more caps (303) for Canada than anyone else, male or female. That total puts her fourth on the list of most capped players of all-time, behind the American trio of Kristine Lilly (354), Christie Pearce and Carli Lloyd (both 311), with Lloyd still an active player.

Sinclair has been to the World Cup a record number of four times as a captain and has scored at least one goal at five different tournaments, a record she shares with Marta. At this summer’s Olympic Games, she is chasing down the record for most goals ever scored in the women’s football tournament. She set the record for most goals scored in a single tournament, netting six at London 2012 – a record broken by Vivianne Miedema in Japan.

The forward is also the only person to have won the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award more than once, a prestigious accolade given to Canada’s female athlete of the year, and has been named Canadian Player of the Year an incredible 14 times.

Who else has more international goals than Ronaldo and Messi?

There are currently nine women’s players who have more international goals than Ronaldo, four of whom remain active. 

The women with more goals than Ronaldo are U.S. women’s national team star Alex Morgan (111), Brazil icon Marta (112) Scotland’s Julie Fleeting (116), Lloyd (126) and Germany’s Birgit Prinz (128), with the American trio of Lilly (130), Mia Hamm (158) and Wambach (184) then topped by Sinclair.

Lionel Messi, meanwhile, is still chasing down the 100-mark in his international career, boasting a record of 76 goals in 151 games for Argentina. He is level in ninth place on the all-time list for men’s footballers, with the United Arab Emirates’ Ali Mabkhout and Ronaldo the two active players above him.

*Note statistics correct as of August 2, 2021

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