Cristiano Ronaldo: Is Portugal legend the best Euros player ever?

When Cristiano Ronaldo leads Portugal out to face Hungary for their opening Euro 2020 fixture on 15 June, he will do so – as is so often the case – with records ready to be rewritten.

The 36-year-old, who helped his country to the title in 2016, has a strong case to be considered the greatest Euros player of all time.

Ronaldo has played more games than anybody else in the tournament’s history, has scored more goals in qualifiers than anyone else and, if he scores once this time out, he will be out on his own as the leading scorer in European Championship finals.

So how does he compare to the Euros greats – and what other new records could he set?

The goals

Ronaldo is the joint top scorer in European Championship history with nine goals – in 21 games across four different tournaments. He is the only player to score at four Euros.

He shares that record with Michel Platini, who scored nine times for France in five games at Euro 1984, but never played at another. That was the only European Championship Les Bleus played at between 1960 and 1992.

Ronaldo scored twice in 2004, once in 2008 and three times each in 2012 and 2016 – the only man to score three goals at two different Euros tournaments.

All his nine goals have come from inside the box – and five have been headers, both records.

Six of Ronaldo’s goals have been in group stages, with one in the Euro 2012 quarter-final against the Czech Republic and two in semi-finals – against the Netherlands in 2004 and Wales in 2016.

France’s Antoine Griezmann could surpass Platini and Ronaldo if he has a good tournament. He is three behind on six goals, all scored in Euro 2016 as he won the Golden Boot.

Ronaldo is also the top European Championship qualifying goalscorer – with 31 on top of his nine finals goals. That is a relatively new record, passing Robbie Keane’s mark of 23 in September 2019.

The success

Ronaldo finally won a major international tournament – something that has eluded his old rival Lionel Messi – when Portugal beat hosts France in the Euro 2016 final.

He went off injured in the 25th minute but bellowed instructions from the sideline throughout the game as they won 1-0 in extra time.

He is one of 44 players to feature in two European Championship finals – in 2004 and 2016. Nobody has ever played in three. Only Ronaldo and Bastian Schweinsteiger have played in three semi-finals.

If he was to win another, that would take him joint top with West Germany’s Rainer Bonhof (1972 and 1980) and 12 members of Spain’s Euro 2008 and 2012 teams – the only players to win two European Championships.

Ronaldo has the joint-highest number of wins in Euros games with 11 – level with Spain’s Cesc Fabregas and Andres Iniesta – so will take the lead this year if Portugal win at least one game.

The longevity

Ronaldo is one of a large group of people to have played at four European Championships. This summer, he will become the only person to play at five.

He has played in 21 games at the finals, three more than Germany’s Schweinsteiger and four more than Italy legend Gianluigi Buffon. Ronaldo also leads the way in minutes played (1,795).

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