Strikers tend to steal all the headlines in football, mainly because they’re in a position that can decide games more often than not and a bullet header or a tidy, right-footed finish in the corner is more memorable than a meaty challenge or a tight man-marking job.
The Premier League (or Premiership, as it was known back in the good old days) has been fortunate enough to have some of the world’s best front men ply their trade in England’s top flight.
In a modern football climate where the traditional target man seems to be a dying breed and a team playing with two up front is deemed a risky approach, we thought we’d cast our eye back to the classic days of when good, quality strikers were easy to find and, certainly compared to today’s game, thrived off a more direct approach. Below is a small reminder of just how lucky we once were when it came to forwards.
Karate-kicking a Crystal Palace fan aside, Eric Cantona was actually a fairly adept footballer. The Manchester United legend was one of the game’s great characters and played a pivotal role in the Red Devils winning their first title since 1967. ‘King Cantona’ probably retired too early, but the Frenchman certainly goes down as one of the best strikers we’ve seen in England. Cantona cost United just £1.2million from Leeds United – an absolute steal!
Defenders hated facing him, opposition goalkeepers couldn’t read him; Dennis Bergkamp was, simply put, a genius on the football pitch. The former Arsenal man was pivotal in their Double successes of 1997-1998 and 2001-2002. His goal against Newcastle, one of 87 he scored, will be remembered forever.
If you haven’t heard of Alan Shearer then you simply need to reassess your football-supporting life, perhaps. The Blackburn and Newcastle legend is one of the most prolific goal-getters English football has ever seen. Shearer was a phenomenal target man with devastating ability in the air, but the Toon Army legend also had an eye for goal with a beastly strike on him. His 260 goals make him the highest ever scorer to grace the league, although Harry Kane is closing in. Kane, currently priced at 10/3 (bet365) and definitely worth backing with the latest Premier League promotions, is possibly best placed to break Shearer’s record.
‘Cole the Goal’ is the Premier League’s second all-time top goalscorer, with 187. Similar to that of Sergio Aguero, who’s currently priced at 3/1 (Ladbrokes) to finish top of the Premier League’s scoring charts this season, Cole only knew how to score goals and torment goalkeepers and opposition defences. Manchester United signed Cole from Newcastle for £7million, which would be an absolute bargain for a player of his quality in today’s crazy market.
Everyone knows the name, Robbie Fowler. The former Liverpool front man had a natural instinct in front of goal that was simply a rarity. ‘God’, as he was named by the famous Kop, scored 128 league goals for Liverpool and, alongside his controversial but at times humorous personality, he really was the full package.
Thierry Henry scored 175 Premier League goals, which is not the highest, but he certainly buried some of the best. Two Premier League titles, the second with the Invincibles, three FA Cups, twice PFA Player of the Year, three times FWA Player of the Year and four times Golden Boot winner, Henry is top of many people’s lists and quite rightly so too.
Ah well, back to Roberto Firmino, Romelu Lukaku and Alvaro Morata it is then. Eugh.