Euro Ramblings – Euros Greatest of All Time by Jade Craddock
Messi or Ronaldo? Ronaldo or Messi? Forget nature v nurture, leave v remain, Corrie v EastEnders, the most hotly contested question of our day and age comes down to the choice between a footballer from Argentina and one from Portugal (who said that society hasn’t progressed?). And it is a question that can divide opinion even among the most united in all other opinions. Messi devotees will point to his superior assists, his dribbling, his team play and his greater individual awards, whilst Ronaldo supporters will cite his club goals, his success in multiple leagues, his incredible athleticism and a superior international record. And whilst debates over who is better are likely to continue for as long as these two keep going – or one of them retires – Ronaldo has ensured his status as ‘greatest of all time’ in Euros history, with a host of records tumbling in his first outing in Euro 2020. Sorry, Messi, this is one arena in which you can’t compete with Ronaldo, in fact no one can.
Most appearances – As Ronaldo led his Portugal side out on Tuesday evening against Hungary, it was his 22nd appearance in the tournament proper. He already held the record, ahead of Bastian Schweinsteiger (18) and Gianluigi Buffon (17), but with a possible further 6 games ahead, Ronaldo could extend his advantage and reach some 28 appearances by the tournament’s end. Whether or not, Portugal qualify from the group, should Ronaldo feature in the two remaining group-stage games, he will also surpass Gianluigi Buffon’s record of 58 appearances, which includes qualifying, with Ronaldo currently sitting on 57.
Most tournaments played – Euro 2020 marks Ronaldo’s fifth – yes, fifth – finals campaign. Whilst a host of players, from Lothar Matthaus to Peter Schmeichel to Olof Mellberg, have racked up an impressive four campaigns, Ronaldo is the only man in history to achieve a breathtaking five campaigns, spanning some sixteen years, with his first appearance in Portugal 2004 aged 19. Now 36, Ronaldo will have to wait another three years until the next Euros in Germany 2024, which may be a bit of a stretch for a then 39-year-old Ronaldo, but I wouldn’t entirely count against it – after all, he hasn’t yet got the oldest player records.
First player to score at five consecutive Euros – When Ronaldo stepped up to slot home a penalty in the 87th minute in the match against Hungary, he became the first player to score at five consecutive Euros. No other player has scored at more than three consecutive Euros, with Wayne Rooney and Thierry Henry amongst those holding that honour, whilst a host of players, including Dennis Bergkamp and Roman Pavlyuchenko, have scored at two. Having first scored against Greece in Euro 2004, Ronaldo also charted the longest gap between first and last Euros goals of some 17 years, which he may extend if he adds any more to his name this tournament.
All-time top scorer at the Euros – I must admit to some surprise that the goalscoring record for the Euros previously stood at 9, held by Michel Platini. Ronaldo obviously shared my surprise and sought to boost that number to a healthier total by bagging a brace, and in doing so catapulting himself to the top of another chart and putting some daylight between himself and his competitors. Now on 11 goals, you wouldn’t bet against that number rising, though Portugal perhaps don’t have the easiest of matches coming up to get out of the group. And despite scoring 11 goals, Ronaldo has only netted against five different opponents (Greece, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Hungary and Wales), so he’ll have to break that if he’s to improve his tally against France and Germany. Incidentally, in terms of most goals including qualifying, no guesses for who claims that record – Ronaldo holds some 27-goal advantage over his nearest rival, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, so I suspect this one may stand the test of time, as perhaps will his record as Portugal’s top goalscorer, where he sits almost 60 goals ahead of Pauleta (and some 40 caps ahead of Joao Moutinho).
Most tournaments with at least one goal/most tournaments with at least two goals – Whilst Ronaldo’s first goal secured him the record of being the player to score at least one goal in the most tournaments (5), his second goal added the complimentary record of scoring two goals at the most tournaments (4). Ronaldo also holds the record for scoring at least three goals at most tournaments (2), and another goal at Euro 2020 would cement that record still further.
Most minutes played – Going into the tournament, Ronaldo sat top of minutes played, ahead of Gianluigi Buffon, who notched 1620 minutes in Euros final campaigns. Another 90 minutes for the Portuguese talisman saw his figures jump to some 1880 plus minutes, which equates to over 31 hours’ playing time! Ronaldo could rack up a possible further 540 minutes should Portugal go all the way, which would take his tally over 2400 minutes – or 40 hours! I feel like taking a rest just contemplating that figure.
Most victories by a player at the Euros – With 83 minutes on the clock, Andreas Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas may have been thinking their record for most victories in the Euros was intact, but whilst Raphael Guerreiro rocked the boat as he put Portugal ahead, Ronaldo’s brace well and truly sank it. All three players had notched up some 11 victories in their Euros careers, but Ronaldo once more took the record outright after the 3-0 triumph over Hungary. Again, matches against France and Germany may not make this an easy record to progress for Ronaldo, but he won’t be resting on his laurels.
With at least two games in which Ronaldo will most likely feature, it’s possible for the records to keep on tumbling, and one that’s been in everyone’s sights (including surely Ronaldo’s) in recent years has been Ali Daei’s international goalscoring record of 109 goals. Now sitting on 106, Ronaldo could feasibly add this to his record haul, but, again, given the games that lie ahead, it won’t be easy – but then scoring 106 goals isn’t easy in itself and if there is one man/machine that can do it, it’s surely Europe’s G.O.A.T. Ronaldo also currently sits two behind Karel Poborsky on most assists in the Euros with 6 and one behind Zidane et al for most penalties scored – a hugely feasible 2, whilst Ronaldo would need to feature in every game through to the semi-finals to surpass Sergio Ramos as the most capped European international. Whilst there’s not much you’d put past this superhuman, Jude Bellingham and Johan Vonlanthen can breathe a sigh of relief that their youngest player records are secure and Michel Platini’s record of 9 goals in a single tournament will need a gargantuan effort even from Ronaldo. But if Ronaldo wants to add another record to his haul, how about fastest goal? I’ll be setting my stopwatch for 66 seconds when Portugal take on Germany on Saturday and I wouldn’t bet against him. Who knows, maybe even Messi will be watching on to see what other records his rival sets.