10 greatest forwards in the 21st century
Over the years, as football fans, we have been treated to some truly special moments. We have grown so accustomed to players scoring 40, 50 goals a season, that we have set that as a standard to measure the impact of forwards on their teams. Football over the years has changed from the defensive, tactical, physical sport that it once was, to a more attacking, possession, and fast-paced sport.
Football has changed with time. Gone are the days of defenders like Paolo Maldini, Tony Adams, Martin Keown, Japp Stam, defenders who would give their lives before conceding goals. Gone are the days when the midfield would be filled with warriors like Roy Keane, Patrick Viera, Gennaro Gattuso, who would always come to games, ready for battle.
Football in the 21st century has become more fluid, more attacking, and more goal-oriented. Scoring goals is the only way teams can win football matches. Modern-day greats like Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Ronaldo, Robert Lewandowski, and so on have gone to show that goals truly are everything.
Since the beginning of the century an attacker has won the Ballon D'or 16 out of a possible 19 times. Forwards have the ability to change games. Forwards have the capacity, to produce that one moment of magic, that can define, a game, a season, or a tournament.
Mbappe's solo run against Argentina, Cristiano Ronaldo's bicycle kick against Juventus, Gareht Bale's burst of speed against Marc Bartra in the Copa Del Rey final, Messi's run past four helpless Real Madrid defenders in the Champions League semi final, Ronaldinho's standing ovation at the Bernabeu for his two goal performance. The list can go on and on.
We will now take a look at the:
Top 10 fowards of the 21st century
#10 Zlatan Ibrahimovic - AC Milan and Sweden
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has always described himself as 'a lion amongst men'. His goal-scoring record and trophy cabinet only reiterates his statement. In a career spanning 21 years and counting,the Swedish maverick, has scored over 550 goals at club level, and 62 goals in 116 appearances for Sweden at the International level.
Zlatan has played for some of the biggest clubs in the world, like Inter Milan, AC Milan, Juventus, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United, and been the top goal-scorer and marquee player at all of these clubs. He went on to win 9 league titles in three different countries during his career.
At 38, Zlatan is still banging in the goals for AC Milan in the Serie A, with 10 league goals in 18 appearances for the club in his second stint. Zlatan has been a model of consistency, goal scoring, strength and determination throughout his career.
#9 Robert Lewandowski - Bayern Munich and Poland
There is not much that needs to be said about Robert Lewandowski. His sheer number of goals speaks for itself. Lewandowski has just come off a season where he scored 56 goals in all competitions.
Lewandowski was the top goal scorer, in all three competitions that Bayern won last season. Many fans and pundits believe that if the Ballon D'or award was not cancelled this year, Robert Lewandowski would have won it.
Lewandowski has scored 236 Bundesliga goals in 321 appearances, for Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. He is the Bundesliga's all-time leading foreign goal scorer. With 61 international goals, Lewandowski is the all-time top scorer for Poland. He has been named the Polish Player of the Year a record eight times.
In his 10 years with Dortmund and Bayern Munich, the Polish striker has won 8 league titles, a Champions League and four DFB Pokals.
#8 Wayne Rooney - Derby County and England
The inclusion of Wayne Rooney may come as a surprise to most readers. Rooney, was one the 'wonderboys' of England. His displays in Euro 2004 for England, at the tender age of 18, frightened defenders, and excited fans all over the world.
Many would say that Rooney did not live up to his billing, and a lot more was expected of him. His off the field antics may also contribute, to why fans do not hold him in high regard.
Rooney however, is Manchester United and England's record goal scorer. Rooney's 208 Premier League goals, make him the league's second highest goal-scorer of all time. His 103 assists, has him third on the all time assists leaders charts. Rooney also has 53 goals in 120 appearances for England, making him the country's all time leading goal-scorer, and second most-capped player.
Rooney's goal scoring tally , and trophy cabinet , which includes 5 Premier League titles, a Champions League, an Europa League, and a Clud World cup.
#7 Luis Suarez - Barcelona and Uruguay
Suarez, like Lewandowski, is a modern great of the game. Luis Suarez has been one of the top strikers in Europe for close to 8 seasons now, consistently scoring goals for club and country.
Suarez has won goal-scoring titles in Netherlands, England and Barcelona, scoring 317 goals in 467 league appearances. At international level, Suarez is Uruguay's all time leading goal-scorer with 59 goals in 113 appearances for his country.
Suarez has always been the type of player, who has something special in his boots, and has been a game changer throughout his career, with many memorable goal-scoring moments defining a trophy laden career.
#6 Thierry Henry - France (retired)
Thierry Henry is still regarded as one of the best players to ever play in the Premier League. He was named the PFA's Player of the Year twice, the FWA Footballer of the Year three times, and was named in the PFA Team of the Year six consecutive times. He was also included in the FIFA FIFPRO WORLD XI once and the UEFA Team of the Year five times.
Henry revolutionized the Premier League with his goal-scoring, pace, dribbling and finishing. His time at Arsenal coincided with the club winning three Premier League titles, and achieving the 'Invincibles' season, where they went an entire season unbeaten, with Henry contributing 28 goals and 20 assists that campaign.
Henry enjoyed success with France, winning the 1998 FIFA World Cup, Euro 2000 and the 2003 Confederations Cup . He was awarded the French Player of the Year award a record five times. In October 2007, he became his country's record goal-scorer, scoring 51 goals in 123 appearances.
#5 Sergio Aguero - Manchester City and Argentina
Many would oppose Sergio Aguero's inclusion in this list of Top 10 attackers of the century, But Aguero's goal-scoring record throughout his career is outrageous. He is the all time leading goal-scorer for Manchester City. His 180 goals in 263 appearances for Manchester City, shows his unbelievable goal scoring rate.
Aguero is currently the 4th highest goalscorer in Premier League history, and the highest non-English scorer in the history of the competition. He also holds the record for most hat-tricks in the Premier League, with twelve.
Aguero has undoubtedly been Manchester City's best signing ever. Who could forget his final day goal, in the dying seconds against QPR, to win the League for Manchester City. Aguero has managed to lead City to four league titles during his time with the club. Aguero has also scored 41 goals in 97 appearances for Argentina.
#4 Ronaldinho - Brazil (retired)
One would be hard-pressed to find a football fan, that has not heard of or seen clips of Ronaldinho. It is safe to say that the Brazilian winger, changed the face of the game completely during his glory years at PSG and Barcelona.
Football fans will never forget his performance against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, where the home crowd gave him a standing ovation or his salsa dance and dink goal versus Chelsea in the Champions League
Ronaldinho completely revolutionized football and the role of an attacker. He inspired a generation after him, with his tricks, flamboyance, speed, and outrageous goals. Ronaldinho wasn't just a trickster, he won a La Liga title with Barcelona in 2004-05, and inspired the club to a Champions League triumph in 2005-06.
Ronaldinho scored 70 goals in 145 appearances for Barcelona during his five seasons at the club. He has also scored 33 goals in 97 appearances for Brazil. He was an integral part of Brazil's 2002 FIFA World Cup triumph.
#3 Ronaldo Nazario - Brazil (retired)
Many players on this exclusive list have mentioned the Brazilian Ronaldo, as their role model. This just goes to show the impact and greatness of the man. Ronaldo during the late 90's and early 2000's was undoubtedly the best player in the world.
Greats of the game like Zinedine Zidane. Luis Figo, David Beckham and more have been quoted saying that Ronaldo is the best player they have ever seen.
Ronaldo had the ability to do things, that no one could even dream of. His dribbling, pace, strength and finishing, was matched by none during his time at the top of the world.
Ronaldo scored 247 goals in 343 league appearances during his career. Ronaldo played for Brazil in 98 matches, scoring 62 goals, and is the second highest goal-scorer for his national team, trailing only Pele. He won the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Ronaldo scored twice in the final, and received the Golden Boot as the tournament's top goalscorer. At the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Ronaldo scored his 15th World Cup goal, a FIFA World Cup record at the time.
#2 Lionel Messi - Barcelona and Argentina
In recent weeks there was speculation about Messi leaving Barcelona, but those rumors have since been quashed.
Messi has spent his entire professional career with Barcelona, where he has won 33 trophies which includes ten La Liga's, four Champions League's and six Copa Del Rey's. A prolific goalscorer and creative playmaker, Messi holds the records for most La Liga goals with 444, a La Liga and European league season with 50 goals, Most number of hat-tricks in La Liga , with a staggering 36,and the UEFA Champions League with 8, and most assists in La Liga with 183.
Messi is also Argentina's all time leading goal-scorer with 70 goals in 138 appearances. Messi has won a goal medal at the 2008 summer Olympics with Argentina.
Messi's dribbling, vision, and God-given talent, have earned him the right to be called the best player in the World. His only fival, in this generation has been ,Cristano Ronaldo. The two forwards, have pushed the boundaries of football, and changed the game forever.
#1 Cristiano Ronaldo - Juventus and Portugal
Ronaldo, this week scored his 100th and 101st goals for his country, the only European to have done so. Ronaldo has scored 450 league goals in 579 appearances at Sporting Lisbon, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus.
Cristiano Ronaldo, at 35 is still banging in the goals, scoring 37 goals in all competitions for Juventus last season. The Portuguese international has won 5 Ballon D'Ors. He has won 30 major trophies throughout his career, including seven league titles, five UEFA Champions Leagues, one UEFA Euro, and one UEFA Nations League title. Ronaldo holds the records for the most goals (130) and most assists (40) in the history of the UEFA Champions League.
Not much more needs to be said about Cristiano Ronaldo. He has firmly established himself as one of the greatest ever to play the game, and his legacy will live on forever.