By William Hill
Last Updated: 8th September 2020
Every football fan has their own staunch opinions on who the most talented and most prolific football scorers are to have graced the game.
Past and present, there are plenty to choose from, so we have decided to take a look at some of the best based on their goals-to-game ratio.
In reverse order, these are the players we can genuinely consider to be the most prolific goalscorers of all time, based on those to have scored more than 500 verified goals in official competitions.
Lionel Messi – 730 goals
Lionel Messi has, in recent times, overtaken his rival Cristiano Ronaldo in the goalscoring charts. He is on 730 now, while his Portuguese counterpart sits on 725. The pair’s rivalry surely brings out the best in each other, with Messi now also ahead in the goals per game stakes, with 0.79.
We certainly have more to come from both of these incredible players but, for now, it is Messi who makes the cut and is the only current player on this list.
Pele – 767 goals
Pele is still considered the greatest scorer of all time by many, and although he accumulated a phenomenal number of goals, he is neither the highest scorer in official matches, nor does he boast the highest goals per game ratio of all time.
By the age of 16, Pele had already become the top scorer in the Brazilian league and at the age of 17, he shot to global fame as the youngest player featuring at the 1958 World Cup, which Brazil went on to win.
A legend was born and in a total of 831 appearances with Santos FC and Brazil over the course of 20 years, Pele scored 767 goals in top-level 831 games, achieving a ratio of 0.922 goals per game.
Gerd Muller – 735 goals
Renowned for his clinical finishing, Gerd Muller boasts an impressive record of having scored more international goals than games played for West Germany, also winning the 1972 European Championship and 1974 World Cup.
After scoring 51 goals in 31 appearances for his first club, Muller quickly caught the attention of Bavarian giants Bayern Munich, where he went on to become a household name in a team that dominated the Bundesliga, winning the European Cup three times in a row.
Through the entirety of his illustrious career, Muller scored an impressive 735 goals in 793 matches for club and country, achieving a ratio of 0.926 goals per game.
Ferenc Puskas – 746 goals
In the post-war era, there’s arguably no greater goalscorer in European football history than legendary net-buster, Ferenc Puskas. At Budapest Honvéd between 1943 and 1955, he’d already built himself a reputation as a prolific striker with over 400 goals to his name, which might have been more were it not for the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 interrupting his career.
Puskas scored 84 goals in 85 international appearances and captained the Hungarian national team when they were known as the Magnificent Magyars during the 1950s. Aged 31, Puskas headed to Spain and formed a legendary attacking partnership with Alfredo Di Stefano at Real Madrid, winning five consecutive La Liga titles and the European Cup three times.
His overall legacy was 746 goals in 754 top-level appearances before retiring in 1966, registering a ratio of 0.989 goals per game.
Josef Bican – 805 goals
At all but three of the eight clubs Josef Bican played for during his extensive career between 1928 and 1955, Bican boasted a remarkable record of scoring more goals than games played.
He scored an unbeatable Slavia Prague club record of 395 goals in 217 appearances. Such was his scoring record, the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS) awarded the “Golden Ball” to Bican, recognising him as having being the greatest goalscorer of the 20th Century, thanks to the remarkable feat of scoring 805 goals in 530 official matches, producing a ratio of 1.518 goals per game.
Fernando Peyroteo – 544 goals
Technically speaking, there is a difference between great goalscorer and a prolific goalscorer. Fernando Peyroteo was both. His goals per game ratio has never been beaten by any player in the history of world football.
After scoring an incredible 106 goals in 43 games during just one season for a Sporting Lisbon franchise, he headed to the top-flight. Over the course of 12 years, his combined tally of league and cup goals was higher than his number of games played, every season and without exception.
With a verified ratio of 1.54 goals per game, having scored 544 goals in just 354 official appearances for Sporting CP and the Portuguese national team, Peyroteo is currently recognised as statistically being the most prolific goalscorer of all time.