The role of a goal poacher is usually one of the most pivotal ones in a football squad. Read on to find out more about the top goal poachers in football history.
Let's first define the term. A goal poacher is a kind of striker which is naturally gifted with the ability to score goals with as few touches as possible, mainly from inside of the penalty box. Goal poachers make goals out of the kinds of hard situations that other players would not even bother to make an attempt.
Moreover, goal poachers tend to stay close the opponent's goal line, and be constantly aware and concentrated for the ball to net it with a quick hit.
The most notable features of a good goal poacher include having the ability to anticipate where the ball is going to, where and in what body position he is ought to be waiting for the ball, and what would be the best possible way he could strike it so that the keeper has no chance of saving it.
Although in modern football a striker's performance is not judged merely on the basis of whether or not he scores many goals, this was typically the case in the past. Strikers did not need to have excellent dribbling and passing skills, neither were they expected to have outstanding vision or pace. They were simply supposed to be a good "finisher".
In other words, they had to be a good goal poacher and score goals in any possible way, maneuvering around the goal line and wait for even the slightest opportunity and stick the ball to the net.
Goal poachers are not usually involved in the team's build-up play, yet they are very vital, they have to find the right place to wait for the ball, and be ready to finish his to give value to their teammates' efforts.
With regard to the mentioned points about goal poachers, we are going to provide a list of top goal poachers in football history.
The list predominantly consists of retired players, since nowadays the strikers' roles are different from the ones from the past. The following is a list of greatest goal poachers in football history, and some brief overviews of their style of play and career.
Birth name: Gary Winston Lineker
Date of birth: 30 November 1960 (age 61)
Place of birth: Leicester, England
Height: 5 ft 10 in (1.77 m)
Gary Winston Lineker OBE, born 30 November 1960, is an English former professional footballer and current sports broadcaster. He is regarded as one of the greatest English strikers.
The English man is also known as one of the greatest strikers of his country, and one of the
football's greatest goal poachers ever
Lineker was a deadly striker who has been crownedEnglish Premier League
's top scorer on 3 occasions, as well as finishing the Second Division as the top scorer once.
He also was 1986 World Cup's leading scorer with 6 goals, becoming the first English man to achieve the feat.
Lineker won a Second Division title withLeicester City
in 1979/80, 1 FA Charity Shield with Everton, 1 Copa del Rey and 1 European Cup Winners' Cup with Barcelona, and 1 FA Cup with Tottenham Hotspur.
Moreover, the prolific goal scorer was named PFA Players' Player of the Year in 1985/86 season, FWA Footballer of the year on 2 occasions, and placed 2nd at 1986 Ballon d'Or.
Lineker was deadly in front of goal, scoring over 300 goals for club and country, including an El Clasico hat-trick and six goals at Mexico 86 to become the only English player to win the Golden Boot at a World Cup.
Furthermore, with 48 goals in 80 appearances, Lineker is English national team's 3rd all-time top scorer. He is undoubtedly one of the deadliest and best goal poachers of all time.
Full name: Alistair Murdoch McCoist
Date of birth: 24 September 1962 (age 59)
Place of birth: Bellshill, Scotland
Height: 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Alistair Murdoch McCoist, MBE, born 24 September 1962, is a Scottish former footballer who has since worked as a manager and pundit.
McCoist is regarded as one of the top goal poachers in football history, and one of the Scottish football and Rangers FC symbols.
He possessed an outstanding ability in anticipating the game, standing in the right spot and hit the ball in the proper time, which are the exact characteristics of a brilliant goal poacher.
With 355 goals, McCoist is Rangers FC leading goal scorer of all time. He has finished the Scottish League as the top scorer on 3 occasions.
Furthermore, he became the first Scottish Player to have ever achieved European Golden Boot by winning the award in 1992, and he replicated the feat the following year, both with 34 goals.
Moreover, the natural goal scorer has scored a total of 28 hat-tricks for the Gers. Additionally, he was 1987/88 European Cup's top scorer.
With McCoist added to Rangers squad, the Glasgow club has achieved 10 Scottish League titles, 9 Scottish League Cups, and 1 Scottish Cup.
He is unquestionably one of the best examples of a finisher, and one of the
best poachers in football of all time
Full name: Rutgerus Johannes Martinus van Nistelrooy
Date of birth: 1 July 1976 (age 45)
Place of birth: Oss, Netherlands
Height: 1.88 m (6 ft 2 in)
Rutgerus Johannes Martinus van Nistelrooy, born 1 July 1976, is a Dutch football coach and former player. He is currently the coach of thePSV Eindhoven
under-19s team and assistant manager forNetherlands
Nistelrooy was a brilliant Dutch striker who used the same method for scoring again and again, yet no one could stop him.
He is indubitably one of the perfect examples of a poacher, and is indeed one of the top goal poachers in football history who was extremely opportunistic with excellent capabilities of finishing with his both feet as well as his head, and had a strong talent to find the space where his teammates' passes would land.
Regarded as one of the best strikers of his generation, Nistelrooy has finished the league as the top scorer in 3 different countries, as well as being UEFA Champions League top scorer on 3 occasions.
He has been crowned Dutch Eredivisie top scorer twice, English Premier League's top scorer, and SpanishLa Liga
's leading goal scorer.
Moreover, Nistelrooy has finished the Champions League as the top scorer 3 times, where with 56 goals he is the tournament's 6th all-time top scorer. The prolific goal scorer has also been FA Cup's top scorer twice. Furthermore, he was named World's Top Goal Scorer of year 2002 by IFFHS.
Moreover, he had an exhilarating career on team level as well as personal level. With PSV Eindhoven, Nistelrooy achieved 2 Eredivisie titles and 1 Dutch Super Cup.
He moved toManchester United
in 2001, where he scored 150 goals in only 219 matches and helped them to the conquest of 1 Premier League, 1 FA Cup, 1 Football League Cup, and 1 FA Community Shield.
, where he scored a total of 64 goals in 96 appearances- including winning a Pichichi award- he won 2 La Liga titles and 1 Spanish Super Cup.
In addition, Nistelrooy has scored 35 goals in 70 appearances for Netherlands national team, and has represented them in 2 EUROs and 1 World Cup. He is without a doubt one of the
greatest goal poachers in football history
Full name: Miroslav Josef Klose
Date of birth: 9 June 1978 (age 43)
Place of birth: Opole, Poland
Height: 1.82 m (6 ft 0 in)
Miroslav Josef Klose, born 9 June 1978, is a German former professional footballer who played as a striker.
Klose is a genuine instance for the term "goal poacher." The German striker was renowned for his excellent positional sense, heading accuracy, and the bright ability of getting on at the end of his teammates' crosses.
These features alongside his capability of running to lose his markers in the penalty area have made him one of the top goal poachers in football history.
The most remarkable feat Klose has achieved throughout his career is being FIFA World Cup's all-time top scorer with 16 goals. All of those 16 goals are perfect examples of what it means to goal poaching. Klose won the 2002 Silver Shoe with 5 goals and the Golden Shoe in 2006 with another 5 goals.
He scored a further 4 goals in 2010, and eventully broke Ronaldo Lima's record of 15 goals in 2014 World Cup, where he won the cup with Germany's national team, and became World Cup's top scorer of all time. Moreover, with 71 goals, Klose is Germany's national teams leading goal scorer as well.
He is the only player to have 4 or more consecutive World Cup medals by achieving medals in every World Cup from 2002 to 2010. Furthermore, with 25 goals, Klose was Bundesliga's top scorer of season 2005/6.
Alongside Thomas Muller and Teofilo Cubillas, Klose is one of the only 3 players to have scored at least 5 goals in 2 different World Cups.
On club level, the prolific goal poacher won a German League Cup withSV Werder Bremen
titles, 2 further German League Cups, 2 German Super Cups and 2 German Cups withBeyern Munich
. Furthermore, he helpedLazio
won the Italian Cup in 2013.
Having scored most of his goals from inside the penalty area and with a goal-poaching method, Miroslav Klose is definitely one of the most deserved players to be in the list of football's greatest goal poachers ever.
Full name: Filippo Inzaghi
Date of birth: 9 August 1973 (age 48)
Place of birth: Piacenza, Italy
Height: 1.81 m (5 ft 11 in)
Filippo Inzaghi Ufficiale OMRI, born 9 August 1973, is an Italian former professional footballer and current manager, who serves as head coach ofSerie A
The Italian striker is regarded as one of the best attackers of his generation, and one of the top goal poachers in football history. He was not gifted with technical abilities with the ball, neither was he involved in the build-up play of his teams.
His tendency to play inside the penalty area, his eye for goal, his ability to take advantage of opponents' mistakes, as well as his outstanding positional sense that enabled him to be in the right place in the right time have made him a genuine goal poacher.
The legendary Johan Cruyff once said about Inzaghi,"Look, actually he can't play football at all. He's just always in the right position." That is exactly what his coaches expect from the natural goal poacher, and fielded him despite his lack of technical skills.
Moreover, Inzaghi was Serie A's top scorer in season 1996/97. Having scored 46 goals in UEFA Champions League, he is the best Italian goal scorer in European tournaments. Additionally, he isAC Milan
's best international scorer with 43 goals.
Inzaghi holds the bright record of scoring the most hat-tricks in Serie A history with 10 hat-tricks. Furthermore, he has scored 25 goals in a total of 57 appearances for Italian national team.
Considered as one of the
best goal poachers of all time
, with Juventus, "Superpippo" achieved 1 Serie A title, and 1 Italian Super Cup. He moved to Milan in 2001 and stayed there until his retirement in 2012.
Inzaghi helped Milan to the conquest of 2 Serie A titles, 2 Champions League trophies, 1 Copa Italia, 2 UEFA Super Cups, and 1 FIFA Clubs World Cup. On international stage, he was a part of the squad that won the 2006 World Cup, and finished EURO 2000 runners-up.
Full name: Andrew Alexander Cole
Date of birth: 15 October 1971 (age 50)
Place of birth: Nottingham, England
Height 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Andrew Alexander Cole, born 15 October 1971, is an English former professional footballer who played as a striker. His professional career lasted from 1988 to 2008, and is mostly remembered for his time with Manchester United. They paid a British record transfer fee to sign him fromNewcastle United
Although he has played for numerous English clubs in his 20-year professional career, Andy Cole is mainly remembered for his spell with Manchester United that lasted 6 years.
He is known as one of the top goal poachers in football history who scored most of his goals with his fast runs into the penalty area that bewildered the defenders. Cole found space inside the penalty box with ease, and has expertise in getting on at the end of his teammates' passes with his exceptional positioning.
With 34 goals, Andy Cole was 1993/94 Premier Leagues' top scorer, and was named PFA Young player of the Year in the same season. Moreover, he stands 3rd in the list of Premier League top scorers of all time with 187 goals. Additionally, he is the fastest player to reach 50 goals in the PL by scoring 50 in only 65 matches.
Cole was a part of the Manchester United squad that achieved the Treble in 1999 (Premier League- FA Cup and Champions League.) Aggregately, he has won 5 Premier Leagues, 2 FA Cups, 1 Intercontinental Cup, 2 English Super Cups and 1 UEFA Champions League with the Red Devils.
He had achieved 2 English Super Cups with Arsenal before coming to Old Trafford. Moreover, Cole won an English League Cup withBlackburn
in 2002. He is unquestionably one of the best poachers in football of all time, and one of the most memorable English strikers.
Full name: Michael James Owen
Date of birth: 14 December 1979 (age 42)
Place of birth: Chester, England
Height: 1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)
Michael James Owen, born 14 December 1979, is an English former footballer who played as a striker forLiverpool
, Real Madrid, Newcastle United, Manchester United and Stoke City, as well as for the England national team.
The former Liverpool, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Manchester City striker is also known as a prolific goal poacher. Owen had an admirable eye for goal and was extremely opportunistic with great finishing ability.
Despite his not very tall stature, Owen was also good in the air. These characteristics of his style of play have made him one of the top goal poachers in football history.
Owen came into prominence while playing for Liverpool, where he became the Premier League's top scorer for 2 consecutive seasons at the ages of 19 and 20. Michael Owen won the 2001 Ballon d'Or when he was 22.
Moreover, the talented striker was named PFA Young Player of the Year in 1998, and was named in their Team of the Year. In 1998 FIFA World Cup, Owen was voted the Best Young Player.
He was also named Premier League's Player of the Season 1997/98. He has scored 40 goals in 89 appearances for English national team, and is the only player to have ever scored in 4 consecutive major tournaments (from 1998 World Cup to Euro 2004).
Moreover, Owen is the 10th-highest goal scorer of all time in Premier League with 150 goals. He could have achieved many more feats if injures had not been so hard on him. Yet, he is regarded as one of the football's greatest goal poachers ever.
Additionally, Owen is known by Liverpool fans as one of their best players in history, for he has scored 158 goals in 297 matches for them, even though he later joined their eternal rival, Manchester United.
Furthermore, Michael Owen has had a glittering career on club stage as well. With Liverpool, he achieved 1 FA Cup, 2 Football League Cups, 1 FA Charity Shield, 1 UEFA Cup and 1 UEFA Super Cup. During his spell at Manchester United he managed to win 1 Premier League, 1 Football League Cup and 1 FA Community Shield.
Full name: Ole Gunnar Solskjær
Date of birth: 26 February 1973 (age 48)
Place of birth: Kristiansund, Møre og Romsdal, Norway
Height: 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Ole Gunnar Solskjær KSO, born 26 February 1973, is a Norwegian professional football manager and former player who is the manager of Premier League club Manchester United
The Norwegian striker is mainly known for his 11-year spell with Manchester United, where due to his great performances as a substitute, he was dubbed "super sub".
Solskjaer had an exceptional positional sense and an expertise in running to lose his markers, as if he knew where the ball would wind up precisely. Moreover, he had an eye for goal and was renowned for his opportunism. Hence, he is deservedly known as one of the top goal poachers in football history.
Solskjaer was named Norway Football Player of the Year in 1996. The most memorable moment of his career is undoubtedly the 1999 UEFA Champions League final match against Bayern Munich.
As always, Solskjaer was sent in by Sir Alex Ferguson in the 81st minute of the match, and he scored the winning goal in the 93rd minute, earning Manchester United the Champions League trophy. He has scored a total of 126 goals within 365 appearances for the Red Devils.
Furthermore, he has scored 23 goals in 67 appearances for his national team, and has represented them in 1998 World Cup and EURO 2000.
Moreover, the natural Norwegian goal scorer has won 6 Premier League titles, 2 English FA Cups, 4 English Super Cups, 1 Inter Continental Cup, and the UEFA Champions League in 1999, which completed the European Treble.
Full name: Javier Hernández Balcázar
Date of birth: 1 June 1988 (age 33)
Place of birth: Guadalajara, Mexico
Height: 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)
, born 1 June 1988, is a Mexican professional footballer who plays as a striker for Major League Soccer clubLA Galaxy
and theMexico national team
The only player who is still active in the list of football's greatest goal poachers ever is Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez. The Mexican man is renowned for his offensive movements off the ball, his prowess in positioning as well as his ability in reading the game that result in him getting at the end of passes easily.
Having scored most of his goals from very close range, Chicharito is one of the few current goal poachers, resembling to Miroslav Klose and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in terms of their playing style.
Javier Hernandez won Sir Matt Busby award, as Manchester United's player of the Year as seen from fans point of view. Moreover, he was named in 2015/16 Bundesliga team of the season while playing for Bayer Leverkusen.
Chicharito was 2015 CONCACAF Men's Player of the Year in 2015, and as included in their Best XI of 2015. He was 2011 Gold Cup's Top scorer with 7 goals, where Mexico won the tournament and he won the Best Player of the tournament award.
Furthermore, Chicharito was 2009/10 Mexican League's top scorer, and persuaded Manchester United to sign a contract with him. IFFHS included him in the CONCACAF Men's Team of the Decade (2010-2019)
Additionally, he has won 2 Premier League titles and 1 English Super Cup with the Red Devils. He spent a season on loan with Real Madrid and managed to won the FIFA Clubs World Cup.
Moreover, he won the Europe League withSevilla
in 2019/20. He had also won a Mexican League title withGuadalajara
before coming to Europe in 2007.
Regarded as one of the top goal poachers in football history, he is revered by Sir Alex Ferguson who has described Chicharito as a "natural goal scorer", and Rudi Voller who has admired Hernandez for his astounding sense of positioning.