The football world witnesses Cristiano Ronaldo concluding 2023 as the leading goal-scorer globally, having notched an impressive 53 goals, a feat that appears to be secure unless unforeseen events transpire in his Saturday match against Al-Tahwan with Al-Nassr. Ronaldo's stellar performance against Al-Ittihad on Tuesday, securing a 5-2 victory, all but ensured his position at the top of the goal-scoring charts.
His closest competitors, Harry Kane and Kylian Mbappe, ended the year with 52 goals and Erling Haaland with 50, making it mathematically challenging for them to surpass the Portuguese phenom, even if he opts out of Saturday's match.
Examining the distribution of Ronaldo's 53 goals in 2023, 43 were for Al-Nassr, spanning various competitions, while an additional ten were netted during Portugal's Euro 2024 qualifiers. Notably, 20 of these goals were successfully converted penalties. Despite this remarkable achievement, Ronaldo will not be in contention for the Golden Boot, an accolade exclusive to European players. Nevertheless, the 38-year-old football icon has consistently surpassed the 35-goal mark for 15 consecutive years, showcasing his enduring prowess.
Ronaldo's career narrative takes an intriguing turn as he continues to reinvent himself in Saudi Arabia, leading the Saudi league's top scorers with 19 goals halfway through the season. In 2013, he marked the pinnacle of his career with an extraordinary 69 goals, an achievement that remains unmatched. As Ronaldo approaches his 39th birthday in February, retirement seems far from his mind, with his recent milestone of 1,200 career appearances and an astounding 872 goals, making him the all-time leading goal-scorer in history and Portugal's top scorer with 128 goals.
Having arrived in Saudi Arabia in January 2023 on a lucrative $200 million-per-season contract, Ronaldo's future in European football remains uncertain despite his earlier statements of not returning. As he eyes the ambitious goal of reaching 1,000 career goals, Ronaldo's relentless pursuit of excellence continues, with his presence expected at Euro 2024 as he endeavors to secure a second title for Portugal. The football world eagerly anticipates whether Ronaldo's extraordinary form at 38 will defy expectations and extend beyond his current contract, set to expire in January 2025.