All the talk in the media about Robbie Keane becoming the highest goalscorer in the history of the European Championship Qualifying Rounds has set off my interest into the greatest international goalscorer of all time.
Puskás was the first name that came to mind, so imagine the shock when none other than Iran’s Ali Daei emerged top of the all time goalscorer list for international football. His record was a staggering 109 goals in 149 games for the Persian Stars.
So who is Ali Daei and how was he so prolific?
Born in Ardabil, Iran in 1969, Daei is Iran’s most decorated footballer. Beginning his career with Hometown club Esteghlal Ardabil, Daei played for nearly twenty years with 12 different clubs including Bayern Munich. Despite a successful club career, Daei’s allegiances have always been with the national side. It’s said the great man struggled to fit in at Bayern Munich partly because he spent so much time away with the Iranian National team.
For the Iranians he was their star player. Beginning his time with the Persian Stars in 1993, Daei had scored 29 goals in 38 appearances by the end of 1996. His contribution to Iranian football has been immense. He provided the assist for Khodadad Azizi against Australia in the 1998 World Cup Qualifiers to see Iran through to the Tournament. At the games, Daei once more proved instrumental in securing Iran’s historic victory against the USA with a delicious assist to Mehdi Mahdavikia to score the winning goal.
He was so much more than a playmaker. Daei was without a doubt an out and out goalscorer. Within a decade of making his début, Daei had surpassed Puskás’s international record of 84 goals. By 2004, Daei had scored over 102 international goals following a four goal haul against Laos.
By the time he hung up his boots in 2007, Daei had notched an amazing 109 goals in 149 games. That’s a goal every .73 games in international football. It’s unlikely the record will ever be broken.
Now let’s all enjoy a cheesy highlight reel
Conor Heffernan, Pundit Arena.