Cristiano Ronaldo has reached an iconic milestone after playing his 196th match for Portugal, achieving the record for the most international football caps by an individual (male). He shares the record with Bader Al-Mutawa (Kuwait).
Ronaldo came onto the pitch as a substitute in the 51st minute of his country's World Cup quarter-final match against Morocco, however, he was unable to find the net as Portugal lost 1-0 and crashed out of the tournament.
Ronaldo has set three other Guinness World Records titles since the 2022 World Cup began. The day after the tournament started, he became the first person with 500 million followers on Instagram. The second-most followed person on the platform is Lionel Messi (Argentina), with 387 million.
Cristiano then went on to become the first player to score in five different World Cups (male) after netting in Portugal’s opening game against Ghana. This match also saw Ronaldo equal the record for the most appearances in FIFA World Cup tournaments by a player (male), with five.
Andrés Guardado (Mexico) and Lionel Messi also made their fifth World Cup appearances this year, adding their names to the list of people who share this record: Antonio Carbajal (Mexico), Lothar Matthäus (Germany), and Rafael Márquez (Mexico).
Becoming the international cap leader is yet another historic moment in Ronaldo’s record-breaking career, a little over a year after he broke the record for the most goals scored in international football matches (male). He has now scored 118 goals for his country; 9 more than second-placed Ali Daei (Iran) and 23 more than Messi.
Ronaldo played his first senior match for Portugal way back in 2003, aged 18, in a 1-0 win against Kazakhstan.
He scored his first international goal in UEFA Euro 2004, in a 2-1 group-stage loss against Greece. Ronaldo went on to be named in UEFA's Team of the Tournament after helping Portugal progress to the final, where they again lost to Greece.
Portugal eventually won their first UEFA Euro – the first major trophy in their history - in 2016. Over the years, Cristiano Ronaldo has set a multitude of records in the tournament:
- Most UEFA European Championships goals by a player - 14
- Most goals scored in the UEFA European Championships including qualifying matches - 45
- Most appearances in the UEFA European Championships by a player – 25
- Most UEFA European Championship tournaments scored in by a player – 5
In addition to his new World Cup world records, Ronaldo achieved one in 2018 when he became the oldest player to score a hat-trick in the FIFA World Cup, carrying his team to a 3-3 draw against Spain during their group-stage matchup.
After becoming the all-time international goals leader in 2021, Ronaldo wrote on his record-breaking Instagram account, "Thank you to the Guinness World Records. Always good to be recognized as a world record breaker. Let’s keep trying to set the numbers even higher!💪🏽"
Since then, Ronaldo has certainly stuck to his promise of setting higher numbers. However, it remains to be seen whether he’ll hold on to the international caps record, as Bader Al-Mutawa is still an active player and he may feature in Kuwait’s upcoming 2023 Gulf Cup matches.