Ronaldo becomes first male player to 200 caps

Cristiano Ronaldo became the first men’s footballer to play 200 international matches during Portugal’s European Championship qualifying win over Iceland on Tuesday.

The Portugal captain, who made his international debut in 2003, achieved the milestone at Reykjavik’s Laugardalsvollur stadium and scored the winning goal in a 1-0 victory against Iceland.

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“I’m so happy. To reach 200 caps is the kind of moment that you never expect. It’s an unbelievable achievement. And of course to score the winning goal makes it even more special”, Ronaldo said after the game.

Ronaldo had to wait two minutes to celebrate the winner as the referee first ruled out his close-range strike in the 89th minute for offside, but the goal was given after the VAR replay showed he was fractionally onside.

It was Ronaldo’s 123rd goal for Portugal, extending his record as the all-time leading international goalscorer.

The Al-Nassr striker already held the record for most international appearances when he surpassed Kuwait’s Bader Al-Mutawa’s, who held the record of 196 matches, during Portugal’s Euro 2024 qualifier against Liechtenstein in March.

Before the kick-off against Iceland, Ronaldo received a Guinness World Record plaque to commemorate becoming the first male player to appear in 200 international matches.

The result left Portugal top with 12 points, two ahead of second-placed Slovakia, who won 1-0 away to Liechtenstein earlier on Tuesday.

Prior to Tuesday’s game, Ronaldo said: “Two hundred games played proves the love I have for my country. For me it is an extremely important milestone. It means a lot. [Two hundred] is a beautiful number that [no men’s player] has. I’m very proud because this is something I never thought I could reach. And I’m continuing to set records.”

At the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Ronaldo became the first male football player to score in five different World Cups.

A five-time Ballon d’Or winner, Ronaldo has two major honours with Portugal — he led his country to success at Euro 2016 and the inaugural UEFA Nations League three years later.

While Ronaldo is the record holder when it comes to men’s internationals, the overall record is held by former USWNT player and 2015 U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame inductee Kristine Lilly with 354 international appearances.

Reuters contributed to this report

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