Since the dawn of the beautiful game, goal scoring has been the most sought after attribute in a player. Ultimately, the aim of soccer is to outscore your opponents. As such, the most prolific goal scorers of any era are inevitably hot property. All of the players on this list have averaged well in excess of one goal every two games, an incredible record to maintain over an entire season.
This is a list of the 15 most clinical strikers in soccer history. That is to say, the player with the highest goals per game ratio. Entire goals tally is irrelevant, this list is purely based on how many goals each player has averaged per game over the course of their career. Another requirement of this list is that it only accounts for a players record in their top domestic division, as there is bound to be someone in the Romanian seventh tier who has averaged a hat-trick a game, but to include such players would make the list a little redundant.
Of course, some will argue that the Premier League is stronger than the Primeira Liga and there is some truth in that, but all of the players on this played in a top division or divisions and almost all represented their country at international level. To give some perspective of the goal scoring records in this list, Cristiano Ronaldo has a record of a goal every 0.64 games, whilst his Brazilian namesake averaged a goal every 0.7 games but neither players records can get them onto this list, whilst Lionel Messi’s record of a goal every 0.75 games means he only misses out by a fraction of a goal a game.
15 Romario - 0.77 Goals per Game
Brazilian forward Romario has officially scored 772 goals in 994 games, an average of a goal every 0.77 games. Romario’s record of 772 officially recognized goals is the second most of any player in the history of the game. Romario was a World Cup winner with Brazil in 1994 where he picked up the Golden Ball as well as winning the FIFA Player of the Year Award in the same year. Romario spent five years at PSV where he won three Eredevise titles and was the league’s top scorer on all three occasions. He scored 96 goals in 107 goals for PSV before moving to Barcelona where he won La Liga and became the league’s top scorer with 34 goals in 46 games before moving back to Brazil. With 55 goals in 70 games at international level, he is also the third highest scorer in the history of the Brazilian national team.
14 Just Fontaine - 0.82 Goals per Game
Just Fontaine has the fourth most World Cup goals in history, despite only playing in one tournament over the course of his career. Unsurprising then, that Fontaine holds the record for the most goals at a single tournament with 13 at the 1958 World Cup finals. Born in Morocco, Fontaine played for Casablanca, Nice and Stade de Reims, where he won four French league titles and notched an official tally of 165 goals in 200 games. Even more remarkable is Fontaine’s record at international level, where he scored 30 goals in 21 games for France.
13 Peter Simpson - 0.85 Goals per Game
Peter Simpson played soccer from 1925 until 1937. The Scotsman began his career at St Bernard’s where he scored 78 goals in 58 games but due to financial difficulties he left the club and moved to the English non league, joining Kettering Town. At Kettering Simpson scored 100 goals in 60 games, earning himself a move to Crystal Palace. Over his entire career, Simpson had a better than one goal per game ratio, but only his time at Crystal Palace counts towards this list, where he scored 165 goals 195 games.
12 Sandor Kocsis - 0.88 Goals per Game
A crucial member of the Magical Magyars, the name given to the Golden Generation of Hungarian football, when the side revolutionized the game and dominated the world, with the exception of one game. Kocsis quickly established himself in Hungary and at the age of 21 he joined the best team the country had to offer, Budapest Honved FC. Kocsis scored 153 goals in 145 games for Honved and at the age of 29 he joined Spanish giants Barcelona where he remained until his retirement in 1965. Kocsis scored 42 goals in 75 games in Spain, where he was given a slightly deeper role. Kocsis also scored a staggering 75 goals in 68 games and in total amassed 295 goals in 335 over his entire career.
11 T-11. Eusebio - 0.9 Goals per Game
One of the biggest names on this list is Benfica legend Eusebio. Born in Mozambique, Eusebio was already in the Benfica first team at the age of 18 and spent 15 years at the Portuguese giants before sporadic spells at a number of clubs all over the globe over the next four years. At Benfica, Eusebio scored a simply stunning 317 goals in 301 appearances. Known as the Black Panther, Eusebio was less a footballer and more a force of nature. Quick and powerful yet poised and supremely technically gifted, Eusebio also racked up 41 goals in 64 games for Portugal. He won the Golden Boot at the 1966 World Cup at his prime, where he was simply untouchable. Real Madrid legend Alfredo di Stefano once said, “Eusebio will always be the best player of all-time,” a pretty glowing indictment from a man whom many consider to hold that title himself.
10 T-11. Gunnar Nordahl - 0.9 Goals per Game
You may think Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the only great striker to have come out of Sweden, but you’d be wrong. Gunnar Nordahl could quite legitimately lay claim to being the finest Swede to ever grace a soccer pitch. He spent nine years in Italy, seven of which were at AC Milan where he played his best football and the following two at Roma, where he retired in 1958. In Italy, he won two Scudetto titles and was the division's top scorer five times, a record no player has surpassed since. In total, Nordahl scored 485 goals in 537 games including 43 goals in 33 games for Sweden.
9 T-9. Gerd Muller - 0.93 Goals per Game
Gerd Muller is quite simply one of the finest goalscorers in the history of the game. Der Bomber, as he is often referred to, scored the vast majority of his goals in and around the six yard box where he was most dangerous. Muller won four Bundesliga titles, three European Champions’ Cup, a European Championship and a World Cup. Muller was the Bundesliga top scorer on seven separate occasions, two European Golden Shoe awards, one World Cup Golden Boot and a Ballon d’Or. His tally of 735 goals in 793 games is tremendous, as is his international record of 68 goals in 62 games.
8 T-9. Pele - 0.93 Goals per Game
Widely regarded as the greatest player in the history of the game, there is very little one can say of Pele that hasn’t been said already. He began playing professionally at 15, had won a World Cup at 17 and finished his career with three World Cup titles, still the only player to ever do so. With 77 goals in 92 games for his country, Pele is also Brazil’s all-time leading goal scorers. He is also the record goal scorer for Santos, where he played almost his entire career before a short spell at New York Cosmos. Pele is officially recognized as having scored 767 goals in 831 games, although he claims to have scored well in excess of that figure but goals which came in friendly, exhibition and youth games are not formally recognized.
7 Ferenc Puskas - 1.01 Goals per Game
The second member of the Magical Magyars and the first player on this list to have averaged a better than one goal per game average over the course of his career. Puskas is one of the most gifted players to ever play the beautiful game and was a member of both Hungary and Real Madrid’s Golden Generations. He was not blessed with lightning pace but he had a wand of a left foot and an understanding of the game which was second to none. His performance against England in the so-called Game of the Century showed football being played in a different way. Puskas won the Hungarian league five times with Budapest Honved before moving to Real Madrid, where he won La Liga on five occasions as well, winning three European Championships in the process. He was named as top scorer on eight separate occasions and finished his career with an astonishing 754 goals in 746 games.
6 T-6. Bernabe Ferreyra - 1.04 Goals per Game
The only Argentine to make this list, as Lionel Messi just misses out, is Bernabe Ferreyra. However, with 1.04 goals per game, Ferreyra’s record makes Messi’s seem a little measly by comparison. Ferreyra began his career with Tigre, where he remained for five years before moving to Argentine giants River Plate. He ended his career with 206 goals in 197 games, although he only ever made four appearances for Argentina. Despite immense popularity in Argentina, where he became one of the first South American sports stars to have a biographical film made about him, he was largely criticized after his early international appearances and never traveled to a World Cup.
5 T-6. Jimmy McGrory - 1.04 Goals per Game
Another man who averaged 1.04 goals per game is Jimmy McGrory, who has the best goals per game ratio of any player in the history of British soccer. McGrory spent almost his entire career at Celtic, with the exception of a single season on-loan at Clydebank. He is Celtic’s all-time top scorer as well as the top scorer in the Scottish Premiership. Despite being only 5-foot-6, McGrory scored a staggering number of headers, earning him the nickname of the “Human Torpedo” among the Celtic faithful. McGrory only played seven games for Scotland but still managed six goals. His career total stood at 410 goals in 408 games.
4 Franz Binder - 1.10 Goals per Game
A one-club man, Binder played for more countries than clubs, as he turned out for both Austria and Germany at the international level. He spent his entire 19-year career at Rapid Wien, where he won four league titles and was named the division's top scorer on three occasions. He averaged near enough a goal a game for both Austria and Germany at the international level. Binder claims to have scored 1,006 goals in 756 games which would give him an average of a goal every 1.33 matches but FIFA officially recognize the Austrian as having scored 267 goals in 242 games, putting him fourth.
3 Imre Schlosser - 1.30 Goals per Game
No longer a powerhouse of international soccer, Hungary have their third player to feature on this list, Imre Schlosser. The highest scoring player in the history of the Hungarian league to this day, Schlosser is recognized as having scored 417 goals in 320 games, making him the sixth highest scoring player in the history of club football. Schlosser also scored 59 goals in 68 games for Hungary. He won the Hungarian league an astonishing 13 times, where he was the division's top scorer on seven occasions as well as Europe’s top scorer four times.
2 Josef Bican - 1.52 Goals per Game
With over 800 goals, Bican has more certified goals than any other player in soccer history. His 805 goals in 530 games gave him an average of over 1.5 goals per game. He represented Austria, Czechoslovakia and Bohemia & Moravia at the international level, where he maintained his stunning goal scoring record. Bican turned out for eight club sides in total, although he played the bulk of his football, and at his peak, at Slavia Prague. In his 217 games for Slavia Prague between 1937 and 1948 he scored an almighty 395 goals.
1 Fernando Peyroteo - 1.77 Goals per Game
Yes, you read that right, 1.77 goals per game. In a short but remarkable career, Peyroteo scored a mind-blowing 331 goals in 187 games for Sporting Lisbon. In his first season, aged 19, Peyroteo scored 34 goals in 14 games. In his 12 years at Sporting Lisbon, the club won five league titles, five domestic cups and the first ever Portuguese Super Cup against Benfica. Peyroteo made 20 appearances for Portugal and netted 14 times. He once scored nine goals in a single game for Sporting as well as bagging eight in another game, contributing to his outrageous goal average over the course of his career. Born in Angola, Peyroteo later returned to Portugal to manage the national team where he gave Eusebio his first start, paving the way for the next great Portuguese goal scorer.