Goals. They are what people want to see and what people will talk about for hours after a game, making them the key element to any football game. You can feel cheated when you sit through 90 minutes with no one finding the back of the net, and particularly if you have shelled out your hard earned cash to see a live game. When a stunning goal is scored it can be one of the most exciting things that can happen in all of sports, which is why soccer is enjoyed by millions of people all around the world, despite it being a low scoring sport. Even those that are not huge fans of football can enjoy watching a sublime free kick, a screamer from 30 yards out or a well worked team goal.
There are a number of players over the years who seem to have a habit of finding the back of the net, making them an important asset to their team, as well as fan favourites for providing so much entertainment. These players have scored some sensational goals, but also a number of scrappy ones which goes to show that some players just have a knack for scoring and being in the right place at the right time. This is particularly true in the Premier League, where the competition is tight between all the teams, and there have been countless goal scoring legends that have helped to make this arguably the greatest league in the world.
The top Premier League scorers have wowed crowds, become reliable heroes for their teams and villains for rival supporters. Some of these players remained loyal to one club, whilst some have taken their goal scoring ability to different teams around the league and carried on doing what they do best. There are a few of the top scorers who are still active in the league, and these players will look to do their best to leapfrog the elder statesmen before hanging up their boots which have served them so well throughout their career.
Here are the top 20 goalscorers in Premier League history
20 Ryan Giggs (109 goals)
Ryan Giggs dominated the Premier League for many years, proving to everyone that age is just a number. He played a key role in turning Manchester United into the best team in the country, and helped them to raise an unbelievable 34 trophies throughout his career which spanned 22 seasons. He has been praised heavily by the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson, George Best, Johan Cruyff and all those that played with him. This was not because of his ability to find the back of the net, but for his professionalism, hard work and incredible talent. He was also more than capable of scoring, putting in 109 goals from when the Premier League began through to his retirement at the end of the 2013-14 season.
19 Emile Heskey (110 goals)
Many people forget the great scorer that Emile Heskey was, but in his younger days he was a prolific goalscorer and one of the few to join the 100 club. His first whole season in the Premier League came in 1996/1997, where he would tally 10 goals in 35 games. He moved from Leicester to Liverpool in 2000, and in his first full season with the team he scored an impressive 22 goals in their historic season where they would win a treble. It was a somewhat downward spiral after this, as the goals dried up for the England international who went on to play at Birmingham, Wigan and Aston Villa. Despite Heskey never recapturing his form, he is still one of the top goalscorers in the history of the Premier League.
18 Dion Dublin (111 goals)
Another Englishman to make the 100 club, Dion Dublin is a fan favourite around the league and was a top striker in his day. He managed 111 goals in the Premier League playing at Manchester United, Coventry City where he scored 61 goals, Aston Villa where he bagged 48, and Leicester City before spells at Celtic and finally Norwich. Dublin's goal scoring ability saw him called up to the England squad, but he would only earn a total of four caps in his career. He is now a popular pundit, and also the creator of his own musical instrument – the Dube.
17 Ian Wright (113 goals)
Arsenal legend Ian Wright was a prolific scorer and one of the biggest personalities in the league during his career. He broke into the Arsenal squad in style, scoring in his debut in a League Cup game, and then scoring an impressive hat-trick in his Premier League debut. He also scored a hat-trick on the final day of the season, yanking the Golden Boot away from Gary Lineker, who played for Arsenal’s North London rivals. He showed no signs of slowing down after this, scoring for fun and being a part of a talented Arsenal squad that won the league and both major domestic cups. Wright is also now a regular pundit and remains a large character in the game.
16 Steven Gerrard (114 goals)
The first player that is still active on this list, Gerrard will be looking to add a few more to his tally before he retires. It won’t be too long until the Liverpool star hangs up his boots, and the rumours are already circulating after Liverpool’s disappointing domestic and European performances this season. He has been their talisman for many years now, first joining the senior team in 1997. An inspirational player, Gerrard has been at Liverpool his entire career and steered them to many trophies in his time. Although Gerrard has scored 114 Premier League goals, he has famously never lifted the league trophy despite coming agonisingly close last season. This seems unlikely now, which is a shame for a player that epitomizes hard work, leadership and selflessness.
15 Dwight Yorke (123 goals)
The Trinidad and Tobago born forward enjoyed a huge amount of success in the Premier League, finding the net 123 times as well as lifting many trophies in his career. He began his career at Aston Villa, but would soon be noticed by Alex Ferguson. Here he became a legend, as he and strike partner Andy Cole became an unstoppable force, helping United to three consecutive league titles, including a treble in the 1999 season where they also lifted the Champions League and FA Cup. After his profitable time in Manchester, Yorke went to Blackburn and Birmingham, but the goals had dried up by this point. Nonetheless, Yorke is firmly in the 100 club and a well decorated and memorable player.
14 Jermain Defoe (124 goals)
Defoe is the sort of player who simply has a knack for scoring. He may be small in stature, but the forward could score all kinds of goals and terrorized Premier League defences for many years. Most of this damage was done with Tottenham, where he enjoyed two successful spells and became their 5th highest goal scorer of all time. His incredible goal scoring ability was best demonstrated against Wigan in the 2009-10 season, where he put five past them in a 9-1 demolition. This included the second fastest hat-trick in Premier League history, where Defoe pounced three times in just seven minutes. He has now taken his talents across the pond, where he is now terrorizing MLS defences with Toronto FC.
13 Nicolas Anelka (125 goals)
Anelka’s career ended in controversial fashion with the “quenelle” gesture made after scoring last season, and this has tarnished his career in which he was a prolific scorer. The Frenchman has played for many teams around the world, including a number of top Premier League clubs. This includes Arsenal, Liverpool (twice), Manchester City and Chelsea. He found the back of the net on a regular basis in his time in the Premier League, including winning the Golden Boot with Chelsea when he scored 19 goals in the 2008-09 season. The journeyman has been deadly in the Premier League and further afield, but is likely to be remembered for the manner in which he was dismissed from West Brom earlier this year.
12 Robbie Keane (126 goals)
Robbie Keane is another player that has played for a number of top teams in leagues around the world, including the Premier League where he scored an astounding 126 goals. He has played for the likes of Coventry City, Inter Milan, Leeds United, Tottenham (twice), Liverpool, Celtic and West Ham. He has proved prolific for each new team he arrives at, scoring over 100 goals in all competitions for Spurs and helping them to the 2008 League Cup. He recently proved he still has it at 34, as he scored in extra-time during the MLS Cup to give the L.A. Galaxy the trophy. It is rumoured that Redknapp is keen to reunite with Keane at QPR with a loan deal, which could give the Irishman a chance to improve on his tally and climb the list.
11 Jimmy Floyd Hasslebaink (127 goals)
Hasslebaink has recently become the manager of League Two side Burton Albion, but spent his playing career tearing up the top leagues in Portugal, Spain and of course in England. In the Premier League he played for Chelsea, Leeds and Middlesbrough, and proved himself to be one of the deadliest forwards around by achieving back to back 23 goal seasons, and 6 consecutive seasons of tallying at least 15 in Europe’s top leagues. Burton Albion will be hoping that that his talents stretch over to managing, but if not the Dutchman could probably still lace up his boots and make an impact at 42.
10 Robin Van Persie (140 goals)
RVP has set the Premier League alight with his play since he joined Arsenal in 2004, scoring countless stunning goals that have demonstrated his extraordinary talent. Van Persie ruthlessly punished teams during his time in North London, but being one of the top strikers in the world meant that he craved trophies, which Arsenal could not deliver. This saw him join United in 2012, where he continued his fine form and scored the goal of the season, which also effectively clinched United the title and ended his lengthy trophy drought. He and United have had their struggles since then, but he proved that he is still one of the best strikers in the league with a brace against Southampton earlier this month. Those ahead of him of this list will be looking over their shoulder.
9 Teddy Sheringham (147 goals)
Teddy Sheringham is one of the all time great Premier League strikers, most notably for his time at Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United. He rose to fame with Spurs, joining them in 1992 and winning the very first Premier League Golden Boot (he also scored the first televised Premier League goal). He continued to find the back of the net in an injury riddled season after this, before being joined by Jurgen Klinsmann in the next season to create one of the all time great Premier League partnerships. He moved to Manchester United in 2007, where opportunities were limited but he would win the first silverware of his career; three successive Premier League titles. A short return to Spurs was followed by stint at Portsmouth, where he proved his talent by becoming the oldest player to score a hat-trick. He then played for West Ham and Colchester, retiring at 42 years old.
8 Les Ferdinand (149 goals)
‘Sir Les’, as he is affectionately known, is another top English striker that spent a lot of his career bouncing from team to team. He was loaned out by QPR to Turkish outfit Besiktas early in his career, and it is here that he turned into an excellent striker. Returning to QPR, he scored 80 goals in 152 league appearances before joining Newcastle, where he won Player of the Year. He was then signed by Spurs, the team which he supported, but injuries unfortunately stopped him from continuing his prolific form. He then played for West Ham, Leicester City, Bolton and Reading, but could never recapture his initial form. Ferdinand received an MBE for his services to the game in 2005, and is still a much loved personality and popular pundit.
7 Michael Owen (150 goals)
One of England’s greatest goalscorers, Owen used to destroy any defence put in front of him with his blistering speed, superb skill and clinical finishing. He was the youngest player to reach 100 Premier League goals, at just 23 years, four months and 12 days. It is in these days that Owen did his damage both in the league, and also for the national side where he remains in the top five all-time England goalscorers. He was prolific at Liverpool, his first club where he remained from 1996 to 2004, and would go on to play at Real Madrid, Newcastle, Man United and finally Stoke where he retired at 33. Injuries hampered the later stages of his career, and without these he may have found himself slightly higher on the list.
6 Robbie Fowler (162 goals)
Another Liverpool legend, Robbie Fowler is one of the all-time great Premier League players and is one of the best goal scorers to play the game. He demonstrated this at just 19, when he was making his second appearance in his first full season for Liverpool in a game against Arsenal. At the 4:33 mark, Fowler stunned the Gunners, his Liverpool team-mates and fans around the world with the quickest ever Premier League hat-trick. He was given the nickname ‘God’ after this, and would go on to carve apart defences and score with style and attitude. His attitude caused some turbulence in his career, in particular a certain goal celebration, which may have held him back from increasing his tally. Nonetheless, Fowler is certainly one of the more entertaining strikers the league has seen.
5 Frank Lampard (174 goals)
It looked like Lampard had closed his Premier League account, but when he was loaned out to Manchester City it gave the Chelsea legend the opportunity to climb the list, and at this rate he may well just do that. Almost all of Lampard’s total came during a hugely successful career at Chelsea, where he cemented himself as one of the greatest midfielders in the world. Since joining City on loan, Lampard has shown that he is still more than capable and even scored against his former side to earn his new team a draw. This made him the first player to score against 39 Premier League clubs. There are rumours that Lampard’s loan may be extended to the end of the season, which would give the 36-year-old a chance to bag a few more goals and play in the reverse fixture, where he would return to Stamford Bridge.
4 Thierry Henry (175 goals)
One player that Lampard could leapfrog is Arsenal legend Thierry Henry, which would be quite an accomplishment seeing as Henry is widely recognized as one of the greatest Premier League players. He is famous for his dazzling technique, creative play and blistering speed, which left defenders ragged during his time in the Premier League. This was most notable in the 2003-04 season, when Arsenal became the only team to finish a season unbeaten. Henry was integral to this, pouring in an amazing 30 goals in 37 matches for the Gunners. After Arsenal, Henry went on to Barcelona and would lift the Champions League trophy, and he would then move on to the MLS. His contract is now up, making it quite likely that he has played his last game. There is, however, a strong chance that the 37-year-old could return to Arsenal in a coaching role.
3 Wayne Rooney (178 goals)
The poster boy for English football, Wayne Rooney has consistently proven himself to be one of the top players in the world. He has done this not just by scoring an incredible 178 league goals, but by leading United through the good and bad, and adjusting to different positions and systems. He is now utilized as a midfielder, but spent a large part of his career leading the line as striker. No matter who comes and goes, Rooney has been consistent in putting the team on his shoulders and coming up with the goods. He scored 15 goals for Everton before joining United in 2004, where he scored a stunning hat-trick in his debut. He helped United to three consecutive league titles and a Champions League trophy, put away 34 goals in 2009-10 and 2011-12, and continues to impress today. He is a player all about hard work and determination, which should see him continue to score regularly despite playing in a deeper role.
2 Andy Cole (187 goals)
Yet another Red Devil to make the list, Andy Cole won it all in the Premier League and has almost scored more than everyone. His strike partnership with Dwight Yorke in the 1998-99 season was one to be feared, and was key in helping United to a famous treble. It was in Manchester that ‘Goal King’ Cole did most of his damage, but he also had no trouble finding the back of the net at Newcastle, Blackburn, Fulham and Man City. Cole would go on to play for a number of teams after this, finally ending his career at his home town club, Nottingham Forest. During his prime, he was at the centre of an incredible United squad, and became the second most prolific scorer in Premier League history.
1 Alan Shearer (260 goals)
Leading the pack by a mile, Alan Shearer gave defenders and goalkeepers nightmares during his career. He opened his account in style at just 17 years old playing for Southampton, bagging a hat-trick in his debut to become the youngest to do so in the top flight. Shearer could score in any number of ways, making him particularly difficult to keep off the score sheet. Not many teams did, as he would go on to score 56 in his first two seasons at Blackburn, an outstanding 37 goals in their title winning season, which he matched the next campaign.
He joined Newcastle in 1996, where he would remain for 10 seasons and continue to pour in the goals. His first five seasons were prolific, and on the back five he continued to score in double figures each season to eventually overtake Jackie Milburn as the club’s leading scorer in all competitions. He added one more to his tally on his final game, giving him a remarkable 260 Premier League goals. His legacy will not be forgotten, and neither will his awful trademark celebration.