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The 10 greatest strikers of all time

Ashwin Hanagudu
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The aim of football is simple – To score a goal. These players have cemented their place in history by scoring a bucket load of goals from all different kinds of situations and angles.

These strikers have given football fans all over the world an immense amount of joy thanks to their skills, attacking play and goals. There have been plenty of amazing strikers who have played and to pick the top 10 from such a big list is no easy task. Without much ado, let us look at the 10 greatest strikers of all time.

Note: Only out and out strikers have been considered, wingers and players who played in the ‘false 9’ position have not been taken into consideration.

Honourable mentions

Thierry Henry

thierry henry

While it might be argued that Henry was a winger, the Frenchman was at his lethal best when he played as a lone striker in Arsene Wenger’s 4-5-1 system. Winner of multiple Premier League titles, World Cup and a Euro, Henry is undoubtedly one of the modern day greats.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

zlatan ibrahimovic

The enigmatic Swede has conquered almost every top league in Europe with his goalscoring exploits and is capable of creating something out of nothing. The Manchester United striker has remained consistent for the last 12 years and is among the very best strikers of this generation.

Luis Suarez

luis suarez

The Uruguayan forward’s tenacity, dribbling skills, finishing and positioning make him one of the most complete players in the modern game. Winner of multiple titles during his spells at Ajax, Liverpool and Barcelona, Suarez was also instrumental in guiding Uruguay to the 2011 Copa America title and is arguably the best striker in world football at the moment.

#10 Marco van Basten

Van Basten goal

Marco Van Basten was undoubtedly one of the greatest talents to ever play the game. The Netherlands international had his greatest moment in the 1988 Euro final where he scored a stunning volley to give Netherlands their only major international trophy.

Van Basten played a starring role in UEFA Euro 1988 scoring 5 times which included a hat-trick against England, a goal in the semi-final against bitter rivals Germany and the stunning volley against Soviet Union in the final. With one of history’s most gilded touches, he smashed a volley in with all of his elegance and grace to score of the greatest goals anyone has ever seen. The Netherlands won 2-0, and they have not had anyone who could affect a final like that ever since, or ever before.

After an immensely successful spell at Ajax, Van Basten moved to Milan where he showed his knack of scoring in important matches once again when two goals in the European Cup final against Steaua Bucharest in 1988/89. Van Basten’s career was tragically cut short due to injury at the age of 28, but the two-time Ballon d’Or winner gave us plenty of moments to remember.

Having scored an amazing 277 goals in his club career, Van Basten is still fondly remembered at Ajax, Milan and Netherlands and is considered to be one of the most gifted strikers to ever grace the game.

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#9 Romario

romario

In a long and successful career which spanned for close to 24 years, Romario cemented his legacy as one of the greatest goal scorers to ever play the game. The Brazilian is best remembered for his times at PSV Eindhoven and Barcelona.

Blessed with supreme dribbling skills and finishing, Romario’s laid back manner and supreme self-confidence made him one of the most dangerous forwards of all time. He scored 165 goals in 167 games for PSV and he also scored a very impressive 39 goals in his two seasons at Barcelona.

In a nomadic career where he played for clubs like Flamengo, Vasco Da Gama, PSV, Barcelona and Valencia, Romario scored an amazing 688 goals in his 886 appearances. He also scored 55 goals for Brazil and with 743 goals in his career, Romario is undoubtedly one of the most prolific goalscorers of all time.

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#8 Arthur Freidenreich

arthur freidenreich

While many people might not have heard of the great Arthur Friedenreich, there is no denying the fact that he revolutionised the game in Brazil. Some records even claim that the African origin Brazilian holds the record for the most number of goals scored in history of football, having scored an incredible 1329 goals in a 26-year long career spanning from 1909-1935.

He was the Copa America player of the tournament and the golden boot winner in 1919. However, he never represented Brazil in a World Cup as there was a serious misunderstanding between the football Leagues of the States of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

Nicknamed the Tiger, he was the game’s first outstanding black player and he had to face many barriers and widespread racism throughout his career. He played a starring role in Brazil’s 1919 and 1922 Copa America campaign and he was crowned as the “King of football” in Brazil’s 1925 tour of Europe.

Having amassed numerous scoring records in his stellar career, Arthur Freidenreich was the first outstanding black player in the history of the game

#7 Josef Bican

josef bican

The player with a most incredible goals to game ratio of 1.52, Josef Bican was the season’s highest scorer in Europe on 5 separate occasions. Bican had the ability to play with both feet. He also had considerable pace and was able to run 100 metres in 10.8 seconds, which was as fast as many sprinters of the time. The International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) even awarded Bican the "Golden Ball" as the greatest goalscorer of the last century.

The Austrian is best known for his time with Rapid Vienna and Slavia Prague. He is also the only person in the history of the game to score 7 goals in a game on three different occasions.

His goalscoring exploits with Vienna and Prague are scarcely believable.In 49 games for Vienna he scored 52 times, while with Prague, he played 179 times scoring an astonishing 395 goals. With 805 goals in his career, the tall, handsome and speedy Austrian is considered by many to be the greatest striker of all time.

#6 Eusebio

Eusebio

Statistics in football are often overrated, but 621 goals in 637 appearances, makes the Portuguese black panther Eusebio one of the greatest goalscorers of all time. For many, including the great Pele, Eusebio was the undisputed king of football. That he had a god given talent, was clear to everyone who was fortunate enough to watch him play.

Blessed with an athletic physique and an incredible eye for goal, Eusebio is best remembered for his time with Benfica, where he won a European cup and 11 Premiere Ligas. In 440 matches for the Portuguese giants, he scored an incredible 473 times and he is still considered by many to be the greatest Portuguese footballer of all time.

Eusebio won various personal accolades in those years, winning the Ballon d’Or in 1965 and coming second the following year where he lost to Bobby Charlton by a single vote. In 1968, he was awarded the Golden Boot for most number of goals in Europe, and achieved that feat again five years later.

The black panther is definitely one of the greatest strikers to ever play the beautiful game.

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#5 Ferenc Puskas

ferenc puskas

Blessed with a thunderous left foot and superb positioning skills, Ferenc Puskas is easily one of the greatest players to ever play the game. He was the lynchpin of the all-conquering “Magical Magyars” and led the Hungary team to unprecedented success which included a second place finish in the 1954 World Cup.

Puskas first created a name for himself in his hometown club of Budapest Honaved where he spent 12 long years and cemented his legacy as one of the greatest goalscorers of all time. During the second half of his career, Puskas formed a deadly combination with the great Alfredo Di Stefano during his stint at Real Madrid as they the duo tore up defences and guided the Los Blancos to five straight league titles and three European Cups.

The legendary Hungarian striker was La Liga’s top scorer for 4 seasons in a row. His phenomenal goal scoring prowess can be seen from the fact that he scored an astonishing 616 goals in 620 appearances for his club sides. He is also Hungary's record scorer having scored 84 times in 85 appearances.

Puskas is one of the if not the greatest striker Real Madrid have had in their long and illustrious history.

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#4 Alfredo Di Stefano

di stefano real madrid

Undoubtedly the player who redefined Real Madrid’s legacy as one of the greatest club teams in the world, Alfredo Di Stefano is arguably the greatest Real Madrid player of all time.

Not many people know that Real Madrid legend Alfredo Di Stefano had initially signed for Barcelona in the year 1953 after a dispute over his signature with Real. The Spanish federation came up with a ludicrous solution where Di Stefano would play alternate seasons at both clubs, however, Barcelona withdrew from the agreement in protest leaving Di Stefano free to sign for their great rivals Real Madrid.

Although his move might be controversial, there is no denying the huge impact he had during his time at Los Blancos. Di Stefano scored an incredible 307 goals in 396 appearances and won an amazing amount of trophies. Di Stefano is also the only player to score in 5 European Cup finals.

8 La Liga titles, 5 European Cups, 1 Copa Del Rey and 1 Intercontinental cup won during Di Stefano’s time at Madrid show what a huge impact the Argentine had. Even greats like Eusebio and Pele called Di Stefano "the most complete footballer in the history of the game" and the Argentine legend is definitely one of the greatest strikers of all time.

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#3 Gerd Muller

gerd muller

Gerd Muller is the most lethal finisher in the history of football. The German was not one to show fancy footwork or waste his time doing some eye-catching stepovers. What he did do was score goals and he scored everytime he played.

Muller’s statistics are truly astonishing. He has scored an amazing 711 goals for club and country and he even held the record for the most goals in a calendar year before it was broken by Lionel Messi. Müller scored 365 goals in 427 Bundesliga matches for Bayern Munich, almost 100 goals more than the second most successful Bundesliga scorer, Klaus Fischer.

Famous football author David Winner best epitomised Muller’s game when he said:

“He never fitted the conventional idea of a great footballer, but he had lethal acceleration over short distances, a remarkable aerial game, and uncanny goalscoring instincts. His short legs gave him a strangely low centre of gravity, so he could turn quickly and with perfect balance in spaces and at speeds that would cause other players to fall over. He also had a knack of scoring in unlikely situations."

Muller is quite simply the best finisher in football history.

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#2 Ronaldo Nazario

ronaldo nazario

Considered to be one of the greatest strikers of all time, Ronaldo Nazario was an absolute phenomenon at his peak. A three-time FIFA World Player of the Year and two-time Ballon d’Or winner, Ronaldo at his peak was known for his devastating turn of pace, acceleration, quick dribbling and clinical finishing skills.

The Brazilian striker played for some amazing clubs in his prime such as Cruzeiro, PSV, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, AC Milan and Corinthians and he was successful throughout his career.

Having won multiple titles af club level, ‘El Phenomenowas also hugely successful for Brazil, leading the South Americans to a fifth World Cup title in 2002 and also playing a major role in Brazil's second place finish in 1998.

One of the most complete players to ever play the game, Ronaldo Nazario is undoubtedly the greatest striker of our generation and is an inspiration to many of the current and upcoming footballers.

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#1 Pele

pele

When you think of World Cups, the first name that comes to mind is: Pele. When you think of beautiful football, the first name that comes to mind is: Pele. When you think of Brazil dominating world football, the first name that comes to mind is: Pele.

A footballer like no other, Pele reserved his best for the biggest stage in World football, the World Cup. Pele first burst onto the scene in 1958 as a young teenager and he absolutely took the tournament by storm, putting in some spellbinding performances right through the tournament. In 1958, Pele became the youngest player to score in a World Cup final when Brazil beat Sweden 5-2. Pele scored at the tender age of 17 and the record still stands to this date.

The 1962 World Cup was also won by Brazil, but Pele got injured after a couple of matches. The 1970 World Cup cemented Pele’s place as one of the greatest footballers of all time. The legendary Brazil squad consisting of himself, Rivellino, Carlos Alberto and Tostao completely annihilated opponents with their “Joga bonito” style of play with Pele leading from the front.

In the final, Pele put in another superlative performance as he grabbed a goal and two superb assists. Pele was awarded the Golden Ball award for being the best player in the 1970 World Cup. The Brazilian legend also has the record for being the only player to have scored in two different finals.

With three World Cups, and countless club titles with his club side Santos, Pele is the greatest striker of all time.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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