LONDON, England – Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are generally the first two players mentioned when discussing the best football player of all time. Since reaching the pinnacle of European football for their respective clubs, the pair has shattered records left, right, and center. They have even shared five Ballon d’Or awards between them.
However, while dominating club football like no other team in history, they have had trouble igniting the global stage in the same manner. The 2018 World Cup in Russia may be Messi and Ronaldo’s final opportunity to win the cherished trophy since neither player has ever lifted it.
Even if one of them succeeds in leading their team to victory, they will never be able to topple a number of World Cup records.
Pele’s Most Championships Record
Pele, a football superstar from Brazil and perhaps the best player ever, won the World Cup in 1958, 1962, and 1970. He continues to be the only player to have ever won the coveted trophy three times.
Up to 20 other athletes, including Ronaldo, Cafu, and Giuseppe Meazza, have taken first place twice. While the Argentine fell short in Brazil in 2014, losing to Germany in the championship game, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have both failed to win the title even once.
In contrast, Cristiano Ronaldo has only ever advanced to the semifinals with Portugal once, back in 2006, and given the strength of their lineup this time around, that seems unlikely to change.
Given that Messi is 30 and Ronaldo is 33, they would both have to play for 12 more years, which is not realistic.
Just Fontaine’s Most Number of Goals In One Edition
It’s likely that no one, much alone Messi or Ronaldo, will ever break this record. Just Fontaine’s spectacular World Cup 1958 performances cemented his place in history. In the competition, Fontaine outperformed everyone else with 13 goals in just 6 games.
With Gerd Muller scoring 10 goals at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, no one has even come close to breaking the record 60 years later.
Consider that throughout their whole FIFA World Cup careers so far, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have only scored 5 and 3 goals, respectively.
Roger Milla as Oldest Goal Scorer at age 42
When he scored against Russia in the 1994 World Cup, at the age of 42, Roger Milla, one of the best players in World Cup history, broke his own record for being the competition’s oldest goalscorer. However, Cameroon would go on to lose the game 6-1.
Given that Messi is 30 and Ronaldo is 33, they would need to compete in at least three more World Cups to surpass Milla’s record. Prior to changing his mind and electing to continue playing for Argentina, Messi had already proclaimed his retirement from international competition. He has also said that he would leave after the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Milla’s record may be broken in the future, but it won’t be by either of these two because Ronaldo also appears to be slowing down and there is simply no chance he will continue playing 12 years from now.
Miroslav Klose’s Most Goals Scored
Miroslav Klose, a German striker, represented his country at four FIFA World Cups (2002, 2006, 2010, and 2014), scoring 16 goals while doing so and taking home the Golden Boot in 2006.
Messi and Ronaldo have each only scored 5 and 3 goals in their respective three editions. Messi’s goal scoring production has decreased as a result of Argentina’s increased reliance on him as a playmaker; as a result, he is unlikely to even come close to Klose’s total.
In contrast, Ronaldo may be playing in his final World Cup, making it impossible for him to surpass Klose with just 14 goals. This is especially true given the people in Portugal’s team and the way they play.
Cafu’s Most World Cup Appearance
In four FIFA World Cups (1994, 1998, 2002, 2006), Cafu, widely regarded as one of the best right-backs of all time, represented Brazil and participated in three championship games (1994, 1998, 2002). The only player to have participated in three different World Cup finals is him.