Top 10 Long-Range Shooters in Premier League History
Is there a better sight in the game than seeing a sweetly struck shot sailing into a top corner from 30 yards out? The goalkeeper grasping at thin air as the ball whistles past him? Maybe even an added crash off the post or the crossbar for dramatic effect?
Players who can belt the ball from distance are brilliant.
The English Premier League has seen its fare share of players who can bludgeon it from long range. Whether they come in the form of free-kicks, volleys or simply putting through of lay off, we’ve seen a lot of capable players down the years.
With this in mind, I have trawled through some archives (a thoroughly enjoyable task in the case of this article) and settled on my top 10 long-range shooters from the Premier League era.
Agree? Probably not. It would be great to hear your thoughts in the comments section. But stick with me for the next 10 slides, and I can guarantee you’re going to see some absolutely wonderful strikes.
First, some honourable mentions on players who just missed out:
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink
Matt Le Tissier
With some pretty impressive names missing the cut, let’s check out the top 10.
The Turkish international played for Blackburn well into the twilight of his career.
By then he was lacking in legs, maybe some sharpness too. But one thing he managed to maintain throughout his career was an eye for the spectacular.
He came alive when the ball fell to him 30 yards from goal, as he was able to manufacture stunning efforts from almost anywhere.
He will always go down as a real cult hero at Ewood Park. A classic for fans of the cliche "a scorer of great goals, but not a great goalscorer."
9. Thomas Hitzlsperger
If a football player's long-standing nickname translates to “The Hammer,” then you can have a pretty good guess at why.
Thomas Hitzlsperger is the aforementioned player, and he can certainly strike a ball. The German international was a regular feature in the Aston Villa side during his spell at the club, and he certainly gave Villa supporters some wonderful memories with his thunderbolts from distance.
He went on to play for West Ham later on in his career and again endeared himself to the fans with his booming left-foot. He has yet to score a goal at his current club, Everton, but it is understandable why the Toffees faithful scream “shoot” whenever Hitzlsperger picks the ball up practically anywhere in the opposition half.
8. Paul Scholes
He is much more a playmaker these days than the dynamic goalscoring midfielder he once was, but Scholes was a master of the long-range strike.
His stunning volley shown here ranks as one of the best goals I have ever seen. The United and England maestro had the technique to engineer goalscoring opportunities from any situation. Whether arriving late in the box or firing in remarkable volleys and shots from distance.
The authority Scholes has over the ball is unparalleled in today's Premier League. For a player who has been used so effectively as a deep-lying playmaker in recent years, it is easy to forget what a magnificent goalscoring player he once was.
7. Robin van Persie
The most lethal left foot that the Premier League has ever seen? Yep, it's Robin van Persie.
In the Dutchman's earlier days at Arsenal, he was given much more license to roam about the pitch into advanced midfield positions and wide areas. Resultantly he was a lot rawer in comparison to the clinical finisher that leads the line for Manchester United these days.
The younger, rawer Van Persie often operated by a "shoot-on-sight" policy. When he caught it sweet with that left-foot, the results were pretty remarkable. The best example of which is the Dutchman's wonderful volley against Charlton from 2006.
Arsene Wenger described Van Persie's goal against Charlton as "technically perfect. The goal of a lifetime." Watching it back again (and again and again) it is difficult to disagree. What a strike.
6. John Arne Riise
"I wanna knowwww, how you scored that goal?" sang the Liverpool fans after their Norwegian left-back nearly ripped the net open with this strike against Manchester United.
John Arne Riise had a bit of a patent for producing left-foot rockets during his time at Anfield. With goals like this one, it is easy to see exactly why the Reds faithful loved him. He still gets a fantastic reception (if not a rendition of his song) whenever he goes back to Anfield with his current club Fulham.
5. Didier Drogba
Didier Drogba will always be remembered for his header and subsequent cup-winning penalty from that famous night in May 2012.
But if we delve back further into the career of the former Chelsea talisman, his back-catalogue of goals is not short of blistering long-range efforts.
Boasting an unnerving ability to hit the ball on the bounce, coupled with one of the most powerful shots in the game, Drogba combined his all-round physical style with a remarkable ability to take aim successfully from some ludicrous positions on the pitch.
His half-volley against Everton is up there were with some of the best goals ever scored in the Premier League.
Long-range shooting was just another string to the bow of one the Premier League's best all-round forwards.
4. Laurent Robert
Of all the players in the list, I don’t think anyone struck the ball with as much power as the former Newcastle and Portsmouth man. When he hit a shot, it stayed hit alright.
The result, as you can see in the accompanying video, were some pretty breathtaking goals. Given the time and space on the edge of the area, the Frenchman was as good as any player in Europe when it came to shooting from distance.
He earned his reputation as a long-range specialist early on in England, netting four times in his debut season for Newcastle. All four came from free-kicks!
When he was taking aim, I doubt that there were many defenders who were to keen to get in the way of a Robert shot. Those who did get in the way when he was striking it, well you have to feel sorry for them. Olivier Bernard finds this out to his misfortune here.
3. Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo developed into the complete forward during his time at Manchester United. Part of this all-round package was his ability to cut in off the wing and shoot from distance.
His 40-yard screamer in the Champions League against Porto is the pick of his long-range strikes for United, but it was certainly one of many. His ability to strike with such venom with either foot made him a nightmare for defenders.
Sure his pace can hurt you in behind, but if you back off the Portuguese he can spank one into the top corner from anywhere within a 40-yard radius from goal.
The way he struck the ball was also a unique trait of Ronaldo’s game. Hit correctly by the former United man, the ball would sporadically oscillate, following no particular curvature or projected amount of spin.
He left many a Premier League goalkeeper flummoxed by his ball-striking skills.
2. Frank Lampard
Even if Frank Lampard does leave Chelsea this summer, he has done more than enough in his time at the club to make it so highly on this list.
Lampard broke the mould as a goalscoring midfielder following his emergence at Chelsea. And it must be said his regular hauls of 20 goals every season did not include many tap-ins.
His ability to strike the ball first-time or engineer space on the edge of the area has enabled him to net so frequently from outside of the area. Following up play and arriving late on the edge of the box to finish has become his trademark down the years.
1. Steven Gerrard
There has not been a player in the Premier League era who has netted as regularly from distance as Steven Gerrard. That's why he is my pick for the best long-range shooter ever seen in the Premier League.
From the moment that Gerrard burst into the Liverpool side as a teenager he has been smashing them in from long range.
He does it when it matters too. When his team need him too. His collection of blockbuster strikes includes goals in Cup finals, Champions League knockout ties as well as derby games against Everton and Manchester United.
His recent 30-yard half-volleyed stunner against Manchester City gave everyone in the game a reminder of just what Gerrard can produce in these areas. But the consistency at which he has done it year after year throughout the Premier League era is truly remarkable.
Disagree? Have your own thoughts? Let me know in the comments section or on Twitter @MattJFootball