Creating the highest goalscorer in football history (Football Manager Experiment)

What’s the main objective about football? Winning football matches.

How do you win football matches? In a number of ways but in general, to score goals.

Quite a few men have claimed to score over 1,000 goals (I’m looking at you Pele and Romario), but officially the highest goalscorer in the history of the sport is Josef Bican with 805 goals in 530 matches. Obviously, the sport was more of an attacking sport back in his active years in the 1930s, 40s and 50s.

This only serves to highlight Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s achievements in a 21st century where defensive football is seen in a more fashionable light than to the ages of Ference Puskas and Pele.

Can we replicate Josef Bican in the modern day? The closest thing we have is Ronaldo and Messi. That means one thing:

a

f o o t b a l l

m a n a g e r

e x p e r i m e n t

Now, in terms of data accessibility and data manipulation, the most recent release of Football Manager seemed the place to start. It’s much easier to create a beast in Football Manager 2018 than it is, for example, on Championship Manager 97/98.

I’ve called him Chris Jericho as he’s the best in the world. He’s from Australia. My strategy for that was simple: whilst he might have got more international games under his belt if he played in Africa or the Americas due to their long qualification processes or in Oceania due to the sheer lack of quality outside of New Zealand. Asia seemed like the perfect balance. Y2J, if you like, had to be set up with a contract at a club, otherwise he’d be poached by a European side and not complete the move for 3 years. First Australian club I could think of? Melbourne Victory.

He was right into the Victory side at the tender age of 15 and two years later he made his Australia debut, in a friendly against Spain. With Australia being chosen as hosts for the 2022 World Cup, his record at international level is heightened due to the fact he’s scoring against teams like France, Uruguay, Russia, Wales & Peru and not the lowly levels of AFC qualification. He’s also hit five hat-tricks at international level. At club level, he’s led Melbourne Victory to an A-League title in 2020.

Of course, this was all boiling down to the 2022 World Cup down under. They were drawn with Colombia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Cameroon. Australia were held to a goalless draw by Colombia but Jericho netted his first World Cup goal at the second time of asking in a 2-2 against Bosnia. They wouldn’t escape the group after drawing 1-1 with Cameroon.

His immaculate showings at the World Cup earned him a £4.7m transfer to Manchester United, pocketing £220,000 a week in wages. Manager, Jose Mourinho had guided United to 3 league titles, a Champions League crown and an FA Cup in his time.

FIVE YEAR MARK (Age 20) // Total Appearances: 191, Total Goals: 167

 

Our boy only stays at a club for a maximum of five years as, despite upgrading to a £275,000/week deal, he was after more money, hence a transfer to PSG. Since joining Manchester United, they have won the Premier League in each five seasons he has spent in England. This gluttonous period for United has also seen 2 FA Cup titles, a League Cup and a Champions League title in 2025 supplemented with a Super Cup and a Club World Cup victory.

Neymar stopped a three-year streak of Jericho as the Ballon d’Or winner. Imagine both Neymar and Jericho at PSG next season. Wow.

Jericho netted in the 2024 & 2027 FA Cup finals and the 2025 UEFA Super Cup final, whilst joining the 100 club in the Premier League, striking 118 in the league for the Red Devils. He is approaching almost a goal a game, due to his incredible record for Australia. He netted twelve in the seven friendlies immediately after the 2022 World Cup but would go on an incredible run of scoring 43 times in 18 games throughout qualification for the 2026 World Cup.

In a group containing Costa Rica, France and Ivory Coast, Australia accumulated 4 points and 5 goals, of which Jericho netted three. He wouldn’t score in the knockout phase which saw Australia create history with a round of 16 win over USA. They were beaten in the quarter finals after extra time by eventual champions Germany. A recurring torn abdominal injury kept him out for four months of the 2026-27 season and cruelly robbed him of appearing in the Asian Cup of 2027, his would-be first appearance due to Australia’s non-appearance in 2023. Australia lost in the final to South Korea. In the first two qualification games for the 2030 World Cup, he has struck eight goals, including a double hat-trick against Chinese Taipei. With India and Brunei to come – he will likely double his record for scoring the most international goals of all-time – he’s now 9 goals ahead of Ali Daei’s 108 for Iran.

TEN YEAR MARK (Age 25) // Total Appearances: 487, Total Goals: 421

 

The price tag to Paris Saint-Germain was an eye-watering £111 million. The success did not stop on a club level, winning five league titles, this time all in France, ensuring that he had picked up 11 league titles in his 15-year career. A second Champions League was added in his first season at PSG whilst five domestic cup wins coupled with 5 wins of the French equivalent of the Community Shield. He hasn’t stopped, however. In the 2031-32 season he overtook Ronaldo and Messi’s goal tallies (at the time of writing – August 15, 2018) and has since clocked up 9 Ballon d’Or crowns.

He has been in the habit of scoring in finals – in five of PSG’s finals – including three successive French Cup finals, the third of which they finally won. Jericho scored the equaliser in the 2029 Champions League final but would ultimately lose out on penalties.

He’s well on his way to become the first player to net 200 international goals. Australia have been largely disappointing in tournaments. He scored 26 in 2030 World Cup qualification but could only muster two in the finals where Australia were put out at the group stages. He did score the winner in the group game against Brazil, however. The 2031 Asian Cup wasn’t his best tournament, either. Jericho netted the fourth in a rout of UAE and two against India but ultimately went missing in a quarter final defeat to Japan. Australia are well on their way to qualifying for China 2034.

When we revisit Jericho at that World Cup, we should be nearing the completion of this challenge: to eclipse Josef Bican’s 805 goals. Just 126 to go.

FIFTEEN YEAR MARK (Age 30) // Total Appearances: 818, Total Goals: 680

 

He scored the winner in 2033 French Cup final v Lens, PSG dropped just 7 points all season to win Jericho’s sixth Ligue 1 and he topped the scoring charts with 31 league goals. A 10th Ballon d’Or followed, extending his record, as he did in the international scoring stakes, confirming qualification to China 2034 with ease. Still, Jericho sat behind Puskas, Romario, Pele & Bican, having surpassed Gerd Muller.

In the 2034-35 season all but Bican was to be surpassed, just 12 goals were needed in the following season. Jericho had a special season prior to the World Cup. PSG had surpassed 100 points for the fifth successive season in the league, pipped Lyon to the French Cup and Jericho netted two in the 3-2 win over Manchester City in the Champions League final. A treble. The World Cup was a contrast. An Australian player didn’t find the net that tournament, losing all of their games: to Italy, Czech Republic and Ecuador, their only goal coming from a Czech own goal.

And with that came Jericho’s international retirement.

SEVENTEEN YEAR MARK (Age 32) // Total Appearances: 967, Total Goals: 794

 

After the World Cup was the time to countdown to the record-breaking 806th goal. After then, 1000 appearances and 1000 goals were the targets. Jericho started the 2034-35 season in ever imperious form, netting ten in his opening ten matches, including one in the Trophee des Champions and four in a 5-0 away win over Strasbourg. The record-equalling goal came at the newly-built Unai Emery Park (named after STILL Paris Saint-Germain manager Unai Emery) in a 2-0 win over RC Lens. The record breaker came two weeks later after the international period, the second in a 3-0 whitewash at Troyes.

The Ballon d’Or titles would rack up to 14, with Ligue Un title wins at 12, as well as another 3 Champions Leagues, 2 UEFA Super Cups, a Club World Cup, a French Cup, 5 more Trophee des Champions and 3 Coupe de la Ligues. 1000 appearances were clocked up late in the 2034-35 season and Jericho extended his PSG contract to take his would-be retirement to 35 years of age, still in the hunt for 1000 goals. He had 119 to go in the summer of 2036 and 76 in the summer of 2037 and 44 in the summer of 2038 and 24 in the summer of 2039, having renewed his contract for a further year each summer.

He came up two goals short.

END OF CAREER (Age 38) // Total Appearances: 1259, Total Goals: 998

 

CAREER HONOURS

Hyundai A-League (1): 2019-20

Premier League (5): 2022-23, 2023-24, 2024-25, 2025-26, 2026-27

Ligue 1 (12): 2027-28, 2028-29, 2029-30, 2030-31, 2031-32, 2032-33, 2033-34, 2034-35, 2036-37, 2037-38, 2038-39, 2039-40

UEFA Champions League (6): 2024-25, 2027-28, 2033-34, 2034-35, 2035-36, 2039-40

FA Cup (2): 2023-24, 2026-27

French Cup (5): 2028-29, 2031-32, 2032-33, 2033-34, 2037-38

League Cup (1): 2022-23

Coupe de la Ligue (6): 2027-28, 2029-30, 2030-31, 2035-36, 2036-37, 2037-38

Club World Cup (3): 2025, 2028, 2036

UEFA Super Cup (4): 2025, 2028, 2035, 2036

Community Shield (4): 2023, 2024, 2025, 2026

Trophee des Champions (11): 2027, 2028, 2029, 2030, 2031, 2032, 2034, 2035, 2037, 2038, 2039

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