RONALDO NAZARIO has topped a list of the highest goalscorers for club and country before the age of 21.
The Brazilian legend stood out on his own among football’s most illustrious company that included his Portuguese namesake Cristiano Ronaldo down in ninth.
El Fenomeno burst onto the scene as a 16-year-old in 1992, netting an astonishing 44 times in 47 games for Cruzeiro in his homeland.
Such was his form, that Ronaldo was called up to Brazil’s World Cup-winning squad in 1994 before moving to PSV Eindhoven to conquer Europe.
Following Ballon d’Or success during a stint at Barcelona, the 43-year-old had managed to net 167 goals in 185 appearances.
As per Sportbible, the only player who even came close to matching Ronaldo’s haul before reaching the age to adopt in the UK is his Brazilian compatriot Neymar.
The Paris Saint-Germain superstar managed 27 fewer goals in 42 more games than R9 for Santos and Brazil before his 2013 switch to Barcelona at age 21.
Neymar’s PSG teammate Kylian Mbappe is next on the list, having only reached the milestone birthday last December.
The former Monaco ace had hit 116 goals in 199 appearances for club and country, which included a strike in the 2018 World Cup final.
That effort meant Mbappe became the first teenager to score in football’s greatest showpiece since Pele in 1958.
English duo Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen both feature on the list after exploding onto the world stage at Merseyside rivals Everton and Liverpool.
But perhaps most surprising is that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo place a lowly eighth and ninth on the list.
The world’s best, who hold a combined 11 Player of the Year awards between them, didn’t enjoy the same astronomical standards in their teenage years.
Messi, who was just beginning to find his groove in a Ronaldinho-inspired Barcelona side, netted 51 goals in 140 appearances for club and country.
Just below him is future rival Ronaldo, who featured predominantly as a skillful winger in his youth before becoming a goalscoring machine.
CR7 moved to Manchester United at age 18 where he took time to settle following his breakthrough at Sporting Lisbon, hitting 36 goals in 182 appearances.
Brazil legend Ronaldo Nazario topped the list of highest goalscorers before the age of 21Credit: PA:Empics Sport
Paris Saint-Germain Kylian Mbappe became the first teenager to score in a World Cup final since PeleCredit: AFP or licensors
Cristiano Ronaldo has evolved from a tricky winger at Sporting Lisbon to a goalscoring machine later in his careerCredit: Reuters
Source: Soccer - thesun.co.uk