15 Best Strikers in Premier League History
The advent of the Premier League in 1992 changed English football forever. The glossier, more commercial version that emerged, backed by Rupert Murdoch's Sky TV millions, meant that clubs in the new league could now compete with the likes of Italy and Spain in bringing the world's best to their shores.
The result was a multinational league the likes of which which had never been seen before in England, with new styles of play and a more entertaining game.
Attacking play was forever changed by the new combination of the nation's best forward players paired with imports. But which strikers have made the most waves in the 20 seasons so far in the Premier League?
Here are 15 of the very best.
15. Ian Wright
In many ways Ian Wright represents the last of a dying breed, extinguished as the Premiership changed almost every facet of top level football. When the new league kicked off, the Arsenal striker was already 29 and had been in professional football for just seven years after being discovered at 22 by Crystal Palace.
In an age where top scouts scour both England and the world for talents barely into their teenage years, letting a player as good as Wrighty slip through the net is almost unimaginable.
The charismatic striker never scored less than 10 goals in any of his six Premier League seasons at Highbury, and at the grand old age of 34 still formed a devastating partnership with Dennis Bergkamp that secured a double for the Gunners.
Now a TV personality, Wright is rightly remembered as one of Arsenal's and the Premier League's idols.
14. Andy Cole
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In the first years of the Premier League, there was no hotter property up front than Andy Cole.
The Newcastle striker was vital in establishing the Magpies as a top-division force, and continued to score goals after a big-money move to Old Trafford.
With 187 goals, only Alan Shearer has been more potent than Cole in the Premier League.
In terms of titles, however, the Manchester United star's five Premier League medals easily outstrip the solitary success of 1994-95 title managed by Shearer.
13. Matt Le Tissier
The barrel-chested playmaker and Guernsey native was the rarest of beasts during his long stint in the Premier League: a one club player.
Matt Le Tissier played his entire career for Southampton, sticking with the club from the South Coast to establish himself as an all-time favourite with the Saints.
Le God, as he was known at the Dell, played 540 games for Southampton, and it would have been more had it not been for recurring injury troubles.
The sight of the sometimes ungainly forward putting his body on the line, dragging his team clear of relegation, became a fixture of April and May's action, and there were more than a few Southampton supporters who were convinced that they had the messiah present at No. 7.
The rest of the league, meanwhile, remembers fondly Le Tissier's capacity for some truly spectacular strikes, that for years were a staple of the Goal of the Season competition.
12. Teddy Sheringham
It is fair to say that Teddy Sheringham represented the antithesis of the stereotypical lumbering British centre-forward.
Calm, cerebral and possessed with great vision, the London native was one of the most talented attackers in the Premier League's nascent years—not to mention one of the most under appreciated.
The first season of the Premier League saw Sheringham leave Nottingham Forest for Tottenham, and it was there he first made an impact alongside the likes of Jurgen Klinsmann.
Partnerships with a quicker or stronger players became a staple for Sheringham, as he forged great combinations with the German and later with Andrew Cole at Manchester United and Alan Shearer for England.
Not an out and out striker, Sheringham nevertheless scored 147 goals in the Premier League, and proved his longevity by making his final appearance in the top flight at the grand old age of 40.
11. Michael Owen
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Michael Owen's career will forever carry with it an asterisk, allowing for the fact that it was so often frustrated by injury. His exploits as a young star at Liverpool, however, will not be forgotten easily by the Premier League.
After making his debut in the 1996/97 season, Owen went on to score 118 goals in 216 games for the Anfield club. That form was noticed at the Bernabeu, and after moving to Real Madrid the English top division rarely saw Owen again at his best.
The diminutive striker hung up his boots at the end of last season after an abortive attempt to get his career back on track with Stoke.
The final years may not have been vintage Owen, but the young speed merchant who burst onto the scene in the 1990s deserves a place among the best.
10. Didier Drogba
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Love him or loathe him, and there are plenty who fall into each category, Didier Drogba's eight years of exemplary service to Chelsea mark him out as one of the great Premier League strikers.
Signed in 2004 at the start of the Roman Abramovich and Jose Mourinho revolution, the Ivory Coast native's decision to leave Marseille for Stamford Bridge was immediately vindicated.
In his first season, Drogba bagged 10 goals and set up a further five to make an important contribution to the Blues' first title in 50 years.
In total Drogba hit 100 league goals for Chelsea, playing a vital part in the transformation that saw the club go from London's fourth biggest team to a major force in European football.
9. Robbie Fowler
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Not only was Robbie Fowler one of the Premier League's biggest, most controversial characters in its early years, he was also one of its greatest stars and most natural hitme. Not to mention, a sort of precursor for the wayward legend Mario Balotelli.
Whether it was pretending to sniff up a sideline during a goal celebration, showing off shirts in favour of striking dockworkers or deliberately missing a penalty because he disagreed with the decision, it was rarely dull watching Fowler.
Unfortunately his supreme poaching instincts could not square with an at-times suspect attitude on and off the pitch, otherwise the Liverpool legend could have gone on to become an all-time great for England.
Still, with 162 Premier League goals making him the fifth-highest scorer, Fowler had plenty of moments to show off his quality.
8. Robin Van Persie
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Robin van Persie stands out as the only player on this list still plying his trade at the top of the Premier League.
There is little doubt that if he can continue his current scoring form, the Dutch genius could soon be higher in the all-time rankings.
Having turned 30 at the start of August, van Persie is days away from beginning his 10th Premier League season. He has improved throughout; after joining Arsenal barely out of his teenage years, he became indispensable to the Gunners, and in his first season at Manchester United he finished as the Premier League's top scorer as he led his new club to the title.
With 122 goals already in the Premier League, van Persie is well on course to establishing as one of the finest Premier League strikers of all time.
7. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink
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Van Persie's countryman, and one of the most competitive players ever to take the field in the Premier League, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink became a fans' favourite at both Leeds and Chelsea thanks to his physical style and bullet shot.
The striker, although unofficially, is widely recognised as having one the hardest shots hit in the league, something he also jokingly admitted to Sky Sports.
Looking at this particular free kick for Middlesbrough, it is very hard indeed to argue with his judgement.
6. Gianfranco Zola
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Alongside stars such as Bergkamp and Eric Cantona, the diminutive Italian was a real trailblazer in English football. Many doubted that a cultured, foreign playmaker could make an impact in the Premier League without being eaten alive by uncompromising defenders.
But Gianfranco Zola proved them all wrong in a stunning spell with Chelsea.
Zola was already on the wrong side of 30 when he moved to Stamford Bridge, but he still gave the Blues seven years of sterling service that made his £4.5 million price tag appear the bargain of the century.
In total, the Italian international played 229 times for the London club in the Premier League, scoring an excellent 59 goals and illuminating the entire division with his sunny demeanour and unmissable post-match interviews.
5. Ruud Van Nistelrooy
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This Dutch goal machine was the first Manchester United to be spoken of with near the same reverence as the great Eric Cantona.
Van Nistelrooy's time at Old Trafford may have ended on a slightly sour note, but this should take nothing away from what he achieved in five years with Sir Alex Ferguson's men.
The Netherlands international, signed as a relative unknown from PSV Eindhoven, smashed a fantastic 95 goals in 150 games, and apart from the injury-plagued 2004/5 term never failed to hit less than 20 goals a season.
The fact that he only won a solitary Golden Boot, in 2003, was due to the fact he was competing with an untouchable Thierry Henry.
Van Nistelrooy also had the misfortune to play in United during a comparatively lean spell for the club, when Henry and Arsenal swept the board.
He still managed to lift one Premier title and an FA Cup, before moving to Real Madrid in 2006 as one of the world's best strikers.
4. Dennis Bergkamp
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Now to the highest-ranked Dutch member of our orange-filled top 10. More than just a highly-talented player, Dennis Bergkamp was another trailblazer for foreign forwards in the Premier League.
Nicknamed the "Non-flying Dutchman" due to his aversion to airplanes, Bergkamp arrived in North London and almost immediately transformed ailing Arsenal into one of England's finest outfits.
His signing, plus the subsequent appointment of Arsene Wenger as manager, gave the Gunners a continental outlook that affected everything from tactics to diet.
In these areas and more, the pair brought to England new techniques and ways of thinking that soon became commonplace around the country.
They were adopted for a reason. Thanks to Bergkamp's magical partnership with Thierry Henry, the Netherlands star lifted three Premier League titles and four FA Cups with the Gunners, and made a total of 315 Premier League appearances.
Not bad for a player who, on signing for £7.5 million in 1996, was under a great deal of pressure to live up to the high pricetag.
3. Alan Shearer
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The English lion, a nightmare for defences across the nation: Alan Shearer was the first national hero of the Premier League era.
He may have been known better on a national level for his fearless performances in the England team, but for Newcastle fans only Jackie Milburn can rival Shearer for the title of best footballer ever to walk the earth.
Having already established himself at Southampton, Shearer continued his career trajectory with Blackburn Rovers, leading the unfashionable northern club to a title backed by Jack Walker's riches during the 1994/5 season.
A world transfer record move of £15 million followed to Newcastle, and Shearer would spend the rest of his career trying in vain to inspire his boyhood club to glory.
With 260 Premier League goals, Shearer is the competition's leading goal scorer. His career may not have yielded the numerous trophies he deserved, but his loyalty and affection to Newcastle will be remembered for many years to come.
2. Thierry Henry
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It is hard to imagine that when Thierry Henry arrived at Arsenal he was a reject winger from Juventus looking for a fresh start.
The young star was transformed into a dynamic forward under the tutelage of Wenger and the rest, as they say, is history.
Henry's career at Arsenal coincided with one of the most successful eras in the club's history, as he lifted two Premier League titles and three FA Cups.
On a personal level, the striker won the Golden Boot an incredible four times in five seasons, picking up two Player of the Year awards for good measure.
In just eight seasons in the Premier League Henry netted 174 goals, and ranks as one of the most deadly strikers ever to play in the league.
1. Eric Cantona
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Henry's goalscoring exploits are not quite enough to dethrone the man who was convinced he was the king. Eric Cantona may not be able to compete with his countryman for pure goals, but for sheer impact on the Premier League he beats even Henry's record.
The Premier League was boosted by the arrival of Cantona at Manchester United for its first season back in 1992/3 and immediately inspired the Red Devils to a first title since 1967.
With his upturned collar, quick temper, outrageous skill and arrogance, Cantona gave the new league a film star quality that helped transcend the boundaries of sport and make it the commercial product it is today.
Although Cantona played just under 200 Premier League matches with both Leeds and United, scoring 58 goals, his image will forever be associated with the red Devils and the league they claimed as their own in his early days.
After lifting four of the first five Premier League trophies, always with consummate class and without seemingly breaking a sweat, Cantona was the first idol of the new English top division.