Zlatan Ibrahimovic

The Reds who set international records

Thursday 18 November 2021 07:00

Harry Maguire becoming England’s highest-scoring defender earlier this week inspired us to think about other international records.

We all know the identities of Manchester United’s all-time top goalscorer and appearance maker, but which Reds past and present have achieved similar landmarks for their countries?

What about oldest and youngest stats, too?

We’ve got you covered, in our miscellany of international Reds’ records…

How Maguire broke an England record


Harry scored again for the Three Lions on Monday and, in doing so, achieved a new landmark.


It would be remiss not to begin with the remarkable achievements of Cristiano Ronaldo here.

Our no.7 isn’t just Portugal’s all-time leading marksman – no male player in the history of international football can top his 115 (and counting) goals! CR7 also holds the record for the most hat-tricks (10), goals against different countries (46) and strikes in the European Championship finals.

By our reckoning, in addition to Ronaldo, a further 11 players who have worn United's colours are also top scorers for their respective nations.

Romelu Lukaku, who is still in his 20s and has 68 goals for Belgium, may one day fancy his chances of overtaking Ronaldo, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden, 62), Wayne Rooney (England, 53), Javier Hernandez (Mexico, 52) and Robin van Persie (Netherlands, 50) have also set incredible totals.

Dimitar Berbatov (48 for Bulgaria) just missed a half century, but Alexis Sanchez (46) is still going strong for Chile, as are Radamel Falcao (35) and Henrikh Mkhitaryan (32) for Colombia and Armenia respectively.

Let’s not forget about the Home Nations. David Healy’s tally of 36 for Northern Ireland included a joint-record 13 in a single qualifying campaign, for Euro 2008, while Denis Law is tied at the top of Scotland’s all-time goals chart on 30, alongside Kenny Dalglish.

Ronaldo nets dramatic brace to make history


Read about the latest world record set by our incredible new signing.


Ronaldo also leads the way here, having clocked up the most appearances of any European player, with 184 caps at the time of writing. He’s captained the Selecao in 127 of those appearances, which is also a continental record.

Sanchez leads a cabal of current Chile players at the top of their rankings, with the forward having made 144 appearances for his country, while Peter Schmeichel has held the Danish landmark for two decades, with the last of his 129 games coming in 2001.

No outfielder has made more England appearances than Rooney, with his farewell game against the United States in 2018 taking him to 120 caps – five behind the overall record-holder, goalkeeper Peter Shilton.


Ibrahimovic came out of international retirement this year and is now the oldest player ever to play for Sweden, having featured in the recent World Cup qualifiers as a 40-year-old. Zlatan also has the longest international career span for the Scandinavians, with his debut coming over 20 years ago.

Our former no.9 still has a long way to go beat the ageless Billy Meredith, though. ‘Old Skinny’ was one of football’s first true stars and his records as the oldest player to play for Wales and to score in an international match (both aged 45) will surely never be beaten. He played between 1895 and 1920, a span only a handful can better, with most relying on post-retirement cameo appearances to do so.

At the other end of the scale, Rooney is the youngest player to start a match for England (Theo Walcott holds the overall record), although he was still an Everton player when lining up against Turkey, aged 17 years and 200 days.

Whiteside beat Pele's record at the 1982 World Cup in Spain.

Norman Whiteside was a few months greener than that when, in 1982, he became the World Cup’s youngest-ever player.

Norm was just 41 days past his 17th birthday when he played against Yugoslavia for the Green and White Army in Spain.

To put Meredith’s mark into perspective, Whiteside would have had to still be playing international football in 2010, while Rooney won't turn 45 until 2030!