From the days of Cliff Bastin to Geoff Hurst and now to the likes of Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford, England has had its share of great strikers, so join us as we take a look at the best English strikers in football history
From the moment that the English invented the sport of football as we know it today and the rules surrounding it, it was apparent that one of the most important roles in the game, perhaps the most important role, was that of a striker, who scored goals and generally made things happen in order for his team to win.
As a result, English football history has seen strikers who established the role and perfected it and then, over the span of the following decades, have added what other strikers across the world were doing to their game. While they may not always be the best of the best, English strikers are known for their character, resilience and their working-man mentality that brings consistency to their performances. So now let’s find out who are the
best English strikers in football history
As always with this kind of lists, we have tried to include players from every era of English football history, so let’s see take a look at the best English forwards in football history:
Despite being extremely successful as a player, Kevin Keegan is sort of an underrated figure among the best English strikers of all time. Born in Armthorpe, Doncaster, Keegan supported Newcastle from childhood as was the tradition in his family, he would later play for them as well but not before he became one of the best European players of the 70s by playing in Liverpool and Hamburg.
Keegan started his career at Scunthorpe United and after a while was scouted byLiverpool
, where he subsequently joined in 1971. Although he first started as a midfielder, the 20 year-old Keegan soon showed that a striker role would better suit him and was moved up front by manager Bill Shankly. This proved extremely effective as he helped Liverpool win 3 League titles, 2 UEFA Cups, 1 FA Cup and a European Cup. after their European Cup victory, Keegan decided to joinHamburg
Despite the slow start at Hamburg, Keegan helped them win their first league title in 19 years and managed to win 2 Ballon d’Ors. Keegan also played in 63 matches for his country, scoring 21 goals. He was England’s captain for nearly half those matches, notably in the Euro 1980 and 1982 World Cup. after Hamburg he went on to play for Newcastle before becoming a fairly successful manager. To this day, Kevin Keegan is still among the handful of players who have won the Ballon d’Or multiple times and thus he deserves a mention amongst the best English strikers in football history.
Moving from a Liverpool legend to anEverton
legend, we have the great Dixie Dean as our next choice for the greatest English strikers in soccer history. Dean was the perfect image of a classic number 9 forward as he was a lethal finisher, probably the best finisher on our list and the only player to have scored 60 goals in a single season of English football, a record which by Dean’s own account could only be broken by Jesus!
A lifelong fan of Everton since being 8 years old, Dean made a name for himself playing for the Tranmere Rovers, where he scored 27 goals in 27 matches in his first full season. he was then transferred to Everton where he hit the ground running and soon led Everton a league title in the 1927-28 season where he scored 60 goals in 39 matches (67 in all competitions). Despite Everton’s relegation a few years later, Dean would stay with them and help them win the 2nd Division which was immediately followed by another First Division title a year later. An FA Cup trophy came a year after that.
A legend of Everton and English football in general, Dixie Dean made 16 appearances for England and managed to score 18 goals in 9 of those appearances. He scored 379 goals in 438 league matches for Everton and has still the best goals-per-game ratio in English top flight (0.87). Dixie Dean who has a statue outside Goodison Park, will always be one of the best English strikers in football history.
England and Tottenham’s current main man and captain is none other than Harry Kane who despite being only 27 totally deserves to be among the
best English forwards in football history
because of just how good and consistent he has been for club and country. Despite not winning any team trophy as of yet, Kane has been outstanding on an individual level and is considered to be one of the best strikers of this generation.
Kane is the product ofTottenham
’s youth academy but his road of becoming a starter for Tottenham wasn’t easy as he had to prove himself by being sent out on loan multiple times. he finally gbroke into Spurs' first team in the 2013-14 season and he took that chance and never looked back. The following season Kane would score 21 in the league and has not since had a season where he scored under 20 goals.
Kane has won the Premier League Golden boot twcie between 2015 and 2017 as well as winning the Golden Boot in the 2018 World Cup by scoring 6 times and helping England reach the semi-finals. While he has scored more than 210 goals for Spurs and 34 for England, Kane has yet to win a trophy, he must do so in order to be among the best of the best, but for now he is certainly amongst the best English strikers in football history.
best English strikers of all time
, Michael Owen is perhaps the one that has underachieved the most. While being a Ballon d’Or winner by the age of 22, Owen was relegated to the bench before he turned 30 and retired from football a couple of years later. But despite this, his early years as a Liverpool player was so good that he totally earns a place on our list.
Owen came through the ranks of Liverpool’s youth academy and broke out into the first team in the 1997-98 season. he won the Golden Boot and the Premier League’s Best Player in the same season, being only 18. The following season, Owen won another Golden Boot but his most impressive season at Liverpool came in 2000-01 season where he helped them win the Cup Treble of League Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Cup. later that year he won the prestigious Ballon d’Or award, being one of the 4 Englishman to do so.
Following his successful years with Liverpool, Owen decided to joinReal Madrid
in 2004, which would be the start of his downfall, and while his goal scoring record was not bad there, he wanted a return to England. After a move to Liverpool fell through, Owen joined Newcastle and after 4 seasons with them joined Liverpool’s bitter rivals, Manchester United, where he finally won the Premier League, despite playing a reduced role.
Michael Owen who scored 40 goals in 89 appearances for England finished his career atStoke City
in 2013. While his career didn’t go the way he planned, at his best Owen was certainly one of the best English strikers in football history.
Yet another Ballon d’Or winner amongst our chosen best English strikers of all time is the 1966 World Cup winner, Sir Bobby Charlton. Some may argue about his placement on our list but Charlton did not play exclusively as a striker, as he was usually an attacking midfielder, so he isn’t at the top of the list. Nicknamed Captain Marvel, Charlton is considered to be one of the greatest football players ever and certainly for many, one ofbest the English football players of all time
One of the few survivors of the Munich air disaster, where the majority of Manchester United team were tragically killed in a plane crash, Sir Bobby Charlton helped rebuildManchester United
after the tragic event incident. Although he had by then experienced a league title in the 1956-57 season, it wasn’t until the mid-60s that Charlton won another league title with the Red Devils.
During the 60s, England saw perhaps the best generation of English players and among those Bobby Charlton was certainly the superstar, who helped England win the World Cup for the first time in 1966 and won the Golden Ball of the tournament. Later that year, He also won the prestigious Ballon d’Or trophy.
Charlton was a Manchester United player through and through and is regarded to be their greatest ever player. He was both England and Manchester United’s top goal scorer, with 249 and 49 respectively, before he was overtaken by Wayne Rooney on both accounts. Charlton won 3 League titles and a FA cup with United and was also the first English captain to win the European Cup in 1968. Perhaps the greatest ever English player, Charlton is certainly one of the
best English strikers in football history.
Much like Bobby Charlton, Wayne Rooney is another Manchester United and England legend but of the modern era. Rooney is certainly one of the
greatest English strikers in soccer history
, someone who was scoring Premier League goals even before his 17th birthday. His early exploits at Everton convinced United to sign him and he went on to feature for the Red Devils for 13 seasons where he became their top goal scorer of all time.
Usually deployed as a support forward, who played behind a classic number 9 , Rooney was capable of both scoring and assisting goals. famous for his powerful long-shots, Rooney was tireless on the pitch and never gave up even if he was having a bad day, constantly making runs and tracking back to impact the game.
At the club level Wayne Rooney won 5 Premier League titles, 3 League Cup trophies, 1 Champions League, 1 Europa League and an FA Cup trophy with Manchester United. He scored 253 times in 559 games for United and became the 2nd highest goal scorer in Premier League history by 208 goals, just behind Alan Shearer.
Wayne Rooney is also England’s top goal scorer as he has scored 53 goals in his 120 appearances for England. Whether because of his impressive records or his passion for the game, Rooney should be considered as one of the best English strikers in football history by any who follow the sport!
The famous Match of the Day presenter, Gary Lineker is the next player on our list of the greatest English strikers in soccer history. Lineker is the 3rd highest England national team goal scorer behind Bobby Charlton and Wayne Rooney and a World Cup Golden Boot winner. He is also one of the few players on our list who was actually successful in his time abroad atBarcelona
Lineker’s career started atLeicester
, where he spent several years between the England’s First and Second division. Lineker seemed to score goals in the First Division just as easily as he did in the Second Division, which won him 2 top scorer awards, 1 in each league and that earned him a move to Everton, one of the best English teams of that era. Despite his great season at Everton which saw him score 38 goals in all competition, Everton didn’t win anything that year.
The 1986 World Cup followed after that, where Lineker managed to score 6 goals in the tournament and won the World Cup Golden Boot, the first time an Englishman had won the award, which in turn earned him a move to Barcelona. There he won the Copa del Rey and Cup Winners’ Cup trophy. After Johan Cruijff took over as the manager of Barcelona Lineker was mainly used out of position which saw him leave Barcelona to join Tottenham after 3 seasons. He won another Golden Boot at Tottenham and he helped them win an FA Cup trophy in 1991.
The runner-up for the 1986 Ballon d’Or award and one of the
best English strikers in football history
, Gary Lineker represented England 80 times and scored 48 goals for them. he is also England’s top scorer in the World Cup with 10 goals and has also been England’s First Division top scorer 3 times as well as being named player of the year in the 1985-86 season.
Another one of the greatest English strikers in soccer history from the 1960s is the legendary Jimmy Greaves, who is the English top-flight’s all-time highest goal scorer with 357 goals. Jimmy Greaves was a non-stop goal scoring machine the likes of which is rarely seen in European football and he did set his impressive records by playing for Tottenham and Chelsea for the majority of his career.
A product of Chelsea youth academy, by 17 Greaves had found his way to Chelsea’s first team and impressed everyone after he scored 22 goals in his debut season. in his 4 seasons atChelsea
, Greaves always scored more than 30 goals a season with his last season at Chelsea being his career best where he scored 41 goals in 40 matches.
After a spell atAC Milan
, Greaves came back to London in 1961 but this time he went to Tottenham where he became a legend by being part of one of Tottenham’s most successful periods. With Greaves’ goal-scoring prowess Tottenham managed to win 2 FA Cups and a European Cup Winners’ Cup. Although Greaves failed to win any English top flight titles at either Chelsea or Tottenham.
Jimmy Greaves has been the English top flight top scorer 6 times, more than any other player, and has played a big part in 1962 and 1966 World Cups for England scoring more than 3 goals in each, and the latter of which he won, cementing his name in history as one of the best English strikers in football history. Jimmy Greaves is a bit of an underrated figure in English football, here’s hoping this article shines a bit more light on his wonderful career.
While it could be argued that 3 or 4 of the best English forwards in football history could be on top of this list, none of them played in the Premier League or if they did, they simply were not as good as Alan Shearer, Premier League’s highest ever goal scorer. A native of Newcastle, Shearer played forSouthampton
, where he started his career, Blackburn, where he won the Premier League and finally his boyhood club Newcastle where he finished his career.
After making an impact at Southampton, Shearer attracted attention from both Manchester United andBlackburn Rovers
and finally decided to join the latter in 1992 for a then world record fee of £15 million. Blackburn got their money’s worth as Shearer scored 30+ goals a season in 3 of 4 seasons he was with them.
In the 1994-95 season, Shearer set a Premier League record, which is yet to be broken, after he scored 34 goals in a single season which helped Blackburn to an unprecedented Premier League title that season. another 30+ goals season followed before Shearer agreed to join his boyhood clubNewcastle
in 1996, where he would stay for a decade and see out his days as a player despite numerous offers from bigger teams.
Alan Shearer has won the Premier League Golden Boot 3 times and in 1996 won the European Golden Boot. The same year he was placed third for both Ballon d’Or and FIFA Player of the Year award. Shearer represented England 63 times, scoring 30 goals for them. with 260 goals in 441 Premier League games, he is the competition’s highest goal scorer and truly one of the best English strikers in football history, if not the best!