Cristiano Ronaldo has added yet another record to his glittering career as he officially became the most capped international player of all time against minnows Liechtenstein in Portugal’s EURO2024 qualification opener.
The 38-year-old was included in Roberto Martínez’s first squad in charge, after having been left on the bench for the final two games of Fernando Santos’ reign, which saw Portugal knocked out of the World Cup against Morocco at the quarter-final stages. The former Belgium manager has opted to deploy in a 3-5-2 akin to what he often used with the Red Devils, with Ronaldo alongside João Félix in a front-two.
Already the top-scoring international player of all time with 118 goals, Ronaldo took yet another record when he was named in Martinez’s starting lineup for the clash ahead of Benfica striker Goncalo Ramos.
Previously on 196 appearances, CR7 took his total to 197 when he stepped onto the pitch, and in the process overtook Kuwait star Bader Al-Mutawa, who had also managed 196 outings for his country.
Should he play both games this international break and also featuring in both Portugal’s games in June, he could be the first man in football history to reach 200 appearances in an extraordinary national team career that saw him lift the European Championships in 2016.
He is already well clear in Europe, with the next highest appearance maker his former teammate Sergio Ramos, who has already retired from international football and will not be troubling the record books any further.
Now playing in Saudi Arabia with Al-Nassr following his departure from Manchester United in unceremonious circumstances in November, Ronaldo is now in the twilight years of his career, but the Madeira man still dominates the leaderboards for Europe’s elite competition.
As it stands, no one has made more appearances, scored more goals or provided more assists than the veteran, while he was also the first player to reach five Champions League wins, though he has since been joined by plenty of his former teammates at Real Madrid following their 2022 success.