Only a matter of time before Cristiano Ronaldo would become the highest scoring footballer in the history of the sport.
It is a breathtaking, remarkable achievement which the man from Madeira finally achieved against Napoli, hitting the back of the net in the Italian Super Cup in the 64th minute to score his 760th career goal and leapfrog previous holder Josef Bican in the process to score more than any other player to have graced the beautiful game.
From his rockets at Manchester United to his sublime artistry at Real Madrid and Juventus, Ronaldo has never showed a single sign of slowing down.
After scoring in such ferocious quantities, selecting Ronaldo’s best ever career strikes is never an easy task.
Sportsmail has pored back through the archives to compile the 10 finest, taking into account various elements such as the importance of the goal, the technique involved or the general aesthetic make-up of the effort itself.
Quite often with Ronaldo, all of these elements are merged expertly into one.
10. Sampdoria 1-2 Juventus: Serie A, December 2019
Just making the top 10 was this quite unbelievable exhibition of physical excellence.
Questions had been asked of Ronaldo after he moved to Juventus for an eye-watering sum north of £100million, to become the highest paid player in the club’s storied history.
Many critics believed Ronaldo would soon be past it, and would simply be a fashion statement for Juve and a marketing commodity if nothing else.
Well, against Sampdoria as Christmas of 2019 approached, Ronaldo silenced every single one of the naysayers.
With the scoreline evenly poised at 1-1, Ronaldo surged into the box with a late run after sensing a cross was inbound.
What happened next was just magic. Just over a month before his 35th birthday the Portuguese maestro proved in front of the eyes of millions that he is still the most athletic star in the game.
Ronaldo fired himself into the air to meet Alex Sandro’s looping cross, reaching a quite ridiculous height of 8.39ft (2.56m) and hanging in the air long enough to get a good look at the ball and power it back across goal, into the top corner.
At the point of making contact, Ronaldo was almost a full torso above all of his fellow jumpers. The Sampdoria defence could only marvel, and Juve went on to collect the win.
9. Liverpool 0-3 Real Madrid: Champions League group stage, October 2014
Around this time Madrid were beginning to set down the foundations of their soon-to-be European dominance, and Ronaldo was in white hot form as ever.
Madrid arrived at Anfield to face a Liverpool side who looked beaten before the game had even started. This was the Brendan Rodgers’ era in the aftermath of Luis Suarez’s departure, disjointed and disheveled.
Still, that doesn’t take away from the brilliance of Ronaldo’s goal. He scored the first of three at Anfield, and from start to finish was simply unplayable under the famous lights.
Ronaldo ran the show and was duly rewarded just 23 minutes into the contest, driving at the Liverpool back line from the heart of midfield and causing Merseyside to hold its breath.
Ghosting past a dejected Steven Gerrard, Ronaldo played a neat interchange with James Rodriguez before latching onto the chipped through-ball and lobbing Simon Mignolet without so much as taking a touch.
Such was the quality of Ronaldo’s goal and the sheer craftsmanship behind it’s creation, Anfield rose in applause for the former Manchester United man. The rarest of rare sights.
The goal also won the Goal of the Tournament award at UEFA’s end of season ceremony.
8. Atletico Madrid 1-4 Real Madrid: La Liga, April 2012
Forever being one to prove he could cut in on the big occasion, Ronaldo stamped his mark all over the Madrid derby to affirm that he was the undisputed No.1 star in the Spanish capital.
Ronaldo strutted about Atletico’s famous former stadium – the Vincente Calderon – like he owned the joint.
For much of the game he was untouchable, going on to score a hat-trick which included a sublime, long-range ‘knuckleball’ freekick as the piece de resistance.
Shifting in multiple directions in the air, the ball took a final cruel meander at the last minute to crash into the top corner, leaving the goalkeeper humiliated and putting Madrid four points clear at the top of the table.
Ronaldo eased mounting pressure on then manager Jose Mourinho as a result, before then spurring his side on to go on and win the title.
7. Marseille 1-3 Real Madrid: Champions League group stage, December 2009
Another freekick which bends the mind as much as it bends the trajectory of the ball.
Here we observed Ronaldo in his early days at Real Madrid, donning the No.9 shirt due to his iconic seven still being worn by club icon Raul.
Keen to make an impression following his world record move from Manchester United, Ronaldo made sure to prove his legendary free-kick technique was no mere fluke.
Showing the confidence to place the ball down and claim the freekick for his own, Ronaldo’s body language immediately suggested he was going for goal, despite being at least 35-yards out.
Few would try it, but there again there is only one Ronaldo.
Pushing his shoulders back and assuming his trademark wide stance, the Portuguese star took several deep breaths before stepping up and sending the ball on a laser-like journey to goal.
Ronaldo had been sent off in LaLiga against Almería just the week prior, but he clearly did not let this weigh on his mind. Madrid progressed comfortably as a result.
6. Real Madrid 1-1 Manchester United: Champions League last 16, February 2013
Some players struggle when meeting their former clubs, yet Ronaldo simply thrives.
The forward had the bit between his teeth when United visited the Bernabeu in 2013, and he was desperate to remind his former employers what they were missing.
Trailing in the match via an early Danny Welbeck goal, Madrid and Ronaldo spent the remainder of the match trying to break down a seemingly unstoppable David De Gea.
The Spanish goalkeeper was having the game of his life, clawing everything from the air and producing one stunning stop after another.
With the atmosphere growing ever more tense in the Bernabeu, Ronaldo took the game into his own hands as he had done so many times before.
Timing a late run into the area, the forward was picked out by a searching Angel Di Maria cross.
Such was the force that Ronaldo fired himself into the air, his marker Patrice Evra was never able to get himself off the ground.
Floating through the air, unchallenged and like a dominant bird of prey, Ronaldo didn’t blink once before powering a header past De Gea and earning a share of the spoils.
The goal was his 35th in 34 games that season. Madrid would go on to win the reverse leg 2-1 and progress to the next stage of the tournament.
5. Real Madrid 1-0 Barcelona: Copa Dey Rey final, April 2011
Again popping up (quite literally) with the goods in the most crucial of moments.
Ronaldo’s header here was right up there with some of the most important goals of his career.
The football eyes of the world were firmly pinned upon Spain, as the prestigious Copa Del Rey produced a ‘Clasico’ final between the age old rivals of Madrid and Barcelona.
Nothing could separate the two sides, that is until Ronaldo soared through the air deep into extra-time.
It was physical dominance on another level, and Barca goalkeeper Pinto never had a chance.
Tears were shed in the Mestalla as Madrid clinched silverware at the death, while Ronaldo’s legend simply increased in stature.
4. Portugal 3-3 Spain: World Cup 2018 group stage, June 2018
A tight Group B meant Portugal knew they needed to get a result against neighbours Spain in order to keep progression hopes alive.
Ronaldo entered the match in Sochi with the sort of aura around him which makes everybody believe something special is about to happen.
Ronaldo, as always, did not disappoint.
In what was undoubtedly the most thrilling match of the groups, Ronaldo scored a sublime hat-trick to earn a vital point in the dying moments of the game.
Spain believed they had the victory sewed up, with Ronaldo cutting a frustrated figure up front and being heavily jostled by defenders.
One mistake however, saw Ronaldo felled just inside the D on the 88-minute mark.
There was only ever going to be one man to take it, with Ronaldo winding back the years to perfectly execute the freekick technique which had served him so well.
3. Porto 0-1 Manchester United: Champions League quarter final, April 2009
Some players have guidelines of when to try the impossible, but not Ronaldo.
On his return to Portugal the maestro was determined to impress his home faithful.
Against the rivals of his former club Sporting Lisbon, Ronaldo picked the ball up some 40-yards out and hit it pure.
The strike was like an optical illusion, it seemed to get faster and faster despite the distance it was travelling.
Such was Ronaldo’s confidence at the time that he didn’t even celebrate as though it was something out of the ordinary.
At the final-whistle Ryan Giggs hailed the goal as ‘just unbelievable,’ and he wasn’t wrong.
2. Manchester United 2-0 Portsmouth: Premier League, January 2008
Of the Premier League heroics of Ronaldo, this goal perhaps sticks out above all others.
It was a season when Ronaldo was quite simply untouchable, firing United to the title in thrilling fashion.
But against Portsmouth, on a chilly night under the lights at Old Trafford, Ronaldo scored one of the most impressive freekicks ever witnessed in English football.
With a swish of vivid orange Nike mercurials, Ronaldo fizzed through the ball with his laces and placed it inch-perfectly in the top corner of the goal. The definition of postage stamp.
Former England international David James could only watch, and didn’t even so much as move his feet.
It was a moment of greatness, and Ronaldo’s arms-outstretched celebration while roaring to the skies above him is now tucked away in United folklore.
1. Juventus 0-3 Real Madrid: Champions League quarter final, April 2018
A goal for the ages.
There will come a time, sadly, when Ronaldo no longer graces football and future generations will grow up without ever having seen him play.
What will be left will be the greatest of legacies, and this strike will be right up among the most fabled tales told.
Everything about the overhead kick was sublime. The movement, the timing, the athleticism, the precision of strike, the power, the placement. Everything.
Gianluigi Buffon is one of the greatest goalkeepers to have ever played the game, yet all he could do was watch. Watch, and then applaud.
It was so typical of Ronaldo to pull off a goal as beautiful as this, on the biggest stage of all.
The strike knocked the wind out of the sails of Juve, and Madrid took huge confidence into the return fixture before storming to the Kiev final courtesy of Ronaldo’s heroics.
There they met Liverpool, and the rest is history.