Cristiano Ronaldo scores 50 goals in a calendar year for eighth time - but is it a record?

Prolific Portuguese on target in Al Nassr's 5-2 King Cup win over Al Shabab on Monday

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Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 26th goal of the season as Al Nassr swept aside rivals Al Shabab to reach the semi-finals of the Saudi King Cup.

Ronaldo netted his side’s fourth in a 5-2 win with 16 minutes of the match remaining. It was his 26th goal in 28 matches for the Saudi Pro League club so far this 2023/24 season.

It took the prolific Portuguese to 50 goals for the calendar year, the eighth time he has managed that feat.

That's some way short of his best return, set in 2013 when the then Real Madrid striker netted an incredible 69 goals for club and country, though he still has three more fixtures left in 2023.

Most goals in a calendar year

That record belongs to Ronaldo's nemesis Lionel Messi.

In 2012, Messi scorched 91 goals for Barcelona (79) and Argentina (12) – a record unlikely to be touched any time soon.

The closest any player has come in Messi's era is the 69 set by Ronaldo (2013) and Robert Lewandowski (2021) during the Poland striker's final year at Bayern Munich.

The previous record for most goals in a calendar year was Gerd Muller's 85 for Bayern Munich and West Germany in 1972.

Other great scorers to enjoy incredible goal returns in a calendar year include Brazil legends Pele (75 goals in 1958; 72 goals in 1965), Zico (72 goals in 1979) and Romario (72 goals in 2000).

Most 50+ goals in a calendar year

That record belongs to Messi, also.

Messi, 36, has scored 50+ goals in a calendar year nine times (2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019). Though his goals output has slowed in recent times his influence is a strong as ever as was evident during the 2022 World Cup in Qatar when Messi scored twice in the final as well as in the penalty shoot-out in their victory over France.

Players with most 50+ goals in a calendar year

Josef Bican – Four times

Pele – Five times

Gerd Muller – Five times

Cristiano Ronaldo – Eight times

Lionel Messi – Nine times

Updated: December 12, 2023, 9:11 AM