More international goals than Ronaldo & Messi: Meet Christine Sinclair, Canada's record-breaking star

Cristiano Ronaldo Christine Sinclair Lionel Messi splitGetty/Goal

Cristiano Ronaldo's brace against the Republic of Ireland in 2021 made him the greatest international goalscorer in men's football, overtaking Iran's Ali Daei.

Ronaldo has scored 123 times in 200 games for his country, three of those in his nation's triumphant Euro 2016 campaign and eight coming at World Cup finals.

However, in order to become football's all-time top international goalscorer, Ronaldo needs to chase down the incredible tally of Christine Sinclair.

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Who is Christine Sinclair?

Christine Sinclair is a forward, primarily playing as an attacking midfielder, who is the captain of both the Canada women's national team and the Portland Thorns. 

The 40-year-old has played in North America for her whole career, selected by FC Gold Pride as the eighth overall pick in the 2008 Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) expansion draft after starring for the Portland Pilots while attending university.

She moved to Western New York Flash in 2011 and then joined the Thorns two years later, for the inaugural National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) season, where she has remained ever since. 

Sinclair has played at six World Cup finals and three Olympic Games for her country, winning two bronze medals and, in 2021, that elusive gold medal. She has also won both the WPS Championship and the NWSL Championship twice, lifted the NWSL Challenge Cup in 2021 and is widely regarded as Canada's greatest player of all time.

What is Christine Sinclair's international goalscoring record?

Sinclair's record currently stands at 190 goals in 326 games for Canada. She set a new international goalscoring record in January 2020, scoring her 184th and 185th international goals against St Kitts and Nevis in the CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying Championship.

"Thank you to everyone for all the messages. I'm slightly overwhelmed," she posted on Twitter afterwards. "Thank you to all my teammates, coaches, staff, friends and family, 185 would not have been possible without you."

The previous record was held by Abby Wambach, the former U.S. women's national team striker who twice won Olympic gold and also won the FIFA Women's World Cup. Wambach scored 184 goals in 255 games for her country before retiring in 2015.

Christine Sinclair Canada Women 2020Getty

What other records does Christine Sinclair hold?

As well as being her country's all-time top goalscorer, Sinclair also has more caps (326) for Canada than anyone else, male or female. That total puts her second on the list of most capped players of all-time, behind the former U.S. women's national team star Kristine Lilly (354).

Sinclair has been to the World Cup a record number of five times as a captain and has scored at least one goal at five different tournaments, a record she shares with Marta. The forward previously held the record for most goals scored in a single Olympic women's football tournament, too, netting six at London 2012, but that record was broken by Vivianne Miedema at the Games in 2021.

Sinclair is also the only person to have won the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award more than once, a prestigious accolade given to Canada's female athlete of the year, and has been named Canadian Player of the Year an incredible 14 times.

Who else has more international goals than Ronaldo and Messi?

There are currently six women's players who have more international goals than Ronaldo.

Those women are U.S. women's national team star Germany's Birgit Prinz (128), with the American quartet of Lilly (130), Lloyd (134), Mia Hamm (158) and Wambach (184) then topped by Sinclair.

Lionel Messi, meanwhile, recently became just the third player in the history of men's football to score 100 international goals. He is now only behind Ronaldo and Daei, having become the first South American to hit a century.

*Note statistics correct as of July 31, 2023