David Villa scored his 50th international goal for Spain in their final UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier to become one of only 14 European players to have reached a half-century with their national team.
The 29-year-old is at the bottom of the leaderboard for the moment, although the FC Barcelona marksman has plenty of seasons left in him as he chases Ferenc Puskás's continental record. Former DSC Arminia Bielefeld, FC Bayern München and Hertha BSC Berlin striker Ali Daei's world record of 109 for Iran may, however, be safe for another generation. UEFA.com presents the roll of honour.
Ferenc Puskás (Hungary & Spain) – 84 goals in 89 appearances
The Galloping Major remains in a field of his own in terms of European goalscoring, and his final total might have been considerably higher given he played the last of his 85 games for Hungary in 1956 when he was just 29 – leaving his homeland and eventually settling at Real Madrid CF. Having taken Spanish citizenship, he played four further internationals for Spain between 1961 and 1962, yet never scored for his adopted country.
Sándor Kocsis (Hungary) – 75 goals in 68 appearances
The inside-forward scored 11 times at the 1954 FIFA World Cup and is the only player to have struck two hat-tricks at a finals tournament. A team-mate of Puskás with Budapest Honvéd FC and Hungary, he was to rack up seven hat-tricks for the national team, earning the nickname The Man With The Golden Head for his stellar aerial prowess. Retiring after a spell at Barcelona, he ran a restaurant – La Tête d'Or – prior to his untimely death in 1979, aged 49.
Gerd Müller (West Germany) – 68 goals in 62 appearances
Like Puskás, Müller did not appear to have the natural physique of a footballer; his first coach at Bayern, Croatian Zlatko Čajkovski, nicknamed him Kleines dickes Müller (Little, fat Müller), but his instincts, aerial ability and fearsome acceleration over short distances marked him out as perhaps the wiliest fox ever to have patrolled a European box. He scored in the finals as West Germany won the 1972 UEFA European Championship and the 1974 World Cup.
Miroslav Klose (Germany) – 62 goals in 112 appearances
Now 33, the S.S. Lazio striker is the only man to have notched four or more goals at three different World Cups – in 2002, 2006 and 2010. Born in Opole, Poland, Klose moved abroad with his father, a professional player, and chose to represent Germany, where his family eventually settled. A master sniper, the former SV Werder Bremen and Bayern totem could yet eclipse the similarly predatory Müller as Germany's top scorer.
Imre Schlosser (Hungary) – 59 goals in 68 appearances
Schlosser netted an incredible total of 258 goals in 155 league games for Ferencvárosi TE between 1905 and 1916, and his strike-rate for the national side was almost as impressive. He made his last international outing on 10 April 1927, nine days after Puskás was born, having completed that awesome haul thanks to an aggressive style, a fine shot and great positional sense.
Jan Koller (Czech Republic) – 55 goals in 91 appearances
Standing at 202cm, Koller dominated the Czech footballing skyline for a decade from 1999, travelling to three UEFA European Championships and the 2006 World Cup. He reached some kind of international goalscoring peak with four strikes in a 6-0 win against the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in June 2005. He might have been even more prolific, but did not make his international debut until he was 25.
Joachim Streich (East Germany) – 55 goals in 102 appearances
Small but deadly, Streich was the former East Germany's most-capped player as well as its most productive forward. First capped in December 1969, he won a bronze medal with East Germany at the 1972 Olympics in Munich and scored twice in four matches at the 1974 World Cup two years later. The only treble of his national-team career came in a 9-0 victory against Malta on 29 October 1977.
Poul Nielsen (Denmark) – 52 goals in 38 appearances
An inveterate tormentor of goalkeepers, Nielsen was the undisputed star of the Denmark sides of the early 20th century, and a silver medallist at the 1912 Olympics. An amateur, like most top players of his day, his final tally includes 26 goals against Norway and 15 against Sweden. His nickname, Tist, is an abbreviation of Gratist, the Danish term for freeloader, since as a youngster the striker used to sneak in to watch matches without paying for a ticket.
Jon Dahl Tomasson (Denmark) – 52 goals in 112 appearances
One of the greatest Danish players of modern times, Tomasson hung up his boots earlier this year as his country's joint top scorer, and said: "I always had an enormous drive to succeed and I think I got everything possible from my career – I could not have been better." National team boss Morten Olsen agreed, calling the industrious attacker "the ultimate team player".
Robbie Keane (Republic of Ireland) – 51 goals in 112 appearances
Two goals in a 2-0 success against FYROM in UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying took the striker's international tally to 51, making him the first player from any British Isles nation to achieve a half-century for their country. Keane recalled: "When I first came into the Ireland squad, Niall Quinn said to me I would get 50 goals, so it's probably down to him."
Hakan Sükür (Turkey) – 51 goals in 112 appearances
It was no accident that the rise of Turkish football in the early 1990s coincided with the emergence of the country's newest star. Hakan famously scored the fastest goal in World Cup history when he struck after just 11 seconds of Turkey's third-place play-off against the Korea Republic in the 2002 finals, though it was his aerial expertise which earned him the nickname Bull of the Bosporus in the European media.
Thierry Henry (France) – 51 goals in 123 appearances
Winning the 1998 World Cup and UEFA EURO 2000 were among the many highlights of Henry's stellar career, in which he eclipsed UEFA President Michel Platini as France's all-time leading marksman before setting his daunting final total at 51. Scarily fast in his youth, his intelligence and finishing kept the goals flowing later in his career.
Lajos Tichy (Hungary) – 51 goals in 72 appearances
Tichy took over as Hungary's goalscorer-in-chief after Puskás left for Spain, making his mark with four goals at the 1958 World Cup and three more at the 1962 event. His powerful shot invited the nickname The Nation's Bomber. He died in 1999. In 2002, two Tichy goals from a friendly game against Lebanon were added to his official haul, lifting his national-team tally from 49 to 51.
David Villa (Spain) – 50 goals in 80 appearances
Strike partner Fernando Llorente was in no doubt how highly he rated Villa after the forward registered his 50th Spain goal. "That's a national record that will be very hard to overtake," he said. "David is one of the all-time greats and it's clear that even after this historic goal he will continue scoring more for Spain for a long, long time."
©UEFA.com 1998-2013. All rights reserved.