Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo became the first male soccer player to play 200 international matches Tuesday during a UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying battle with Iceland.
The 38-year-old Portuguese legend, who debuted at age 18 in 2003, was honored with a Guinness World Record plaque to commemorate the milestone just before the start of the match at Laugardalsvöllur stadium in Reykjavik, Iceland, according to ESPN.
“I’m so happy. To reach 200 caps is the kind of moment that you never expect. It’s an unbelievable achievement,” Ronaldo said in a post-game interview, the outlet reported. “And of course to score the winning goal makes it even more special.”
Ronaldo, who played the full 99 minutes of the match, came close to scoring several times. A second yellow card and a dismissal for Willum Thór Willumsson in the 80th minute after his foul on Portugal’s Gonçalo Inácio reduced the resolute Iceland team to 10 men. Inácio, receiving a cross, headed the ball down into the six-yard box.
The on-rushing Ronaldo, recognizing his chance, latched onto the headed pass and poked the ball home to break the long deadlock and likely break Icelandic hearts as well, fittingly scoring his 123rd international goal in the 89th minute. The goal was checked for offside but was awarded in the 91st minute following a video assistant referee (VAR) review. (RELATED: Al-Hilal Offers Lionel Messi Over $400 Million Per Year That Could Potentially Set Up Glorious Rivalry With Ronaldo)
With the goal, Ronaldo extended his record as the all-time leading male international goalscorer, according to ESPN.
Former U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) player and 2015 U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame inductee Kristine Lilly holds the all-time record with 354 appearances worldwide, according to ESPN. Additionally, Canada’s Women’s National Team (CANWNT) player Christine Sinclair is the all-time goalscorer in international women’s play, with 190 goals in 319 appearances for Canada, bypassing retired USWNT’s Abby Wambach’s 184-goal record, according to the Olympics.