Newcastle United's 5 Best Strikers of the Last 20 Years

Marley Anderson@@91MarleyContributor IIJune 11, 2013

Newcastle United's 5 Best Strikers of the Last 20 Years

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    Newcastle United fans love their strikers. Be it the great Alan Shearer or the latest centre-forward to pull on the famous black and white stripes, the men who score the goals for the Geordies will be endeared forever.

    But who has been the best?

    In fairness, there's not much debate over who takes the top spot in the list, although the top five should provide some talking points.

    Over the next five slides, I have compiled a list of the five best strikers of the past 20 years (incidentally almost my entire lifetime), ranking the players based on goals scored, relationship with fans and overall charisma. 

    There's bound to be some disagreements, so feel free to chip in with any ideas of who should or shouldn't have made the list!

5. Andy Carroll (2006-2011)

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    We start with a potentially controversial inclusion. 

    Andy Carroll's reputation will forever be tarnished among Newcastle fans, as his £35 million transfer to Liverpool is a move that saw him go from hero to villain over the course of one helicopter ride to Merseyside.

    For his time at Newcastle, however, Carroll proved himself as a top striker who could cause problems for the best of opposition. 

    Finding his feet when the Magpies dropped into the Championship, Carroll netted 19 goals in all competitions to fire Newcastle back to the top flight.

    Then, scoring a hat-trick against Aston Villa early in the 2010-11 season, Carroll was enjoying hero-like status with his boyhood clubs fans, only to then go and join Liverpool in January of the same season.

    Ever since his move to Anfield, Carroll's career has stalled, and he now looks likely to be on the move again this summer, with Liverpool likely to cut their losses as they look at other options.

    Maybe one way Carroll can rebuild his ruined reputation is to rejoin his local club and pick up where he left off? 

4. Les Ferdinand (1995-1997)

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    Next up on the list is Les Ferdinand, who still enjoys iconic status whenever he returns to Newcastle.

    Ferdinand's 29 goals in his debut season for Newcastle helped the Magpies come within touching distance of the Premiership title, although a monumental collapse resulted in Manchester United claiming the crown.

    Ferdinand formed a lethal partnership with Alan Shearer the next season, with both men filling their boots with goals as Newcastle enjoyed a spell as one of the most exciting teams to ever grace the English top flight.

    Strong, surprisingly quick and excellent in the air, Ferdinand netted 41 goals in 68 games for the Magpies, before moving on to play for Tottenham.

    Had Ferdinand stayed and built on his partnership with Shearer, who knows what might have been in store for the all-conquering Geordies? Ferdinand, however, seemed to feel pushed out by the return of Shearer in 1996.

    Ferdinand's No. 9 shirt was taken and awarded to Shearer when he joined from Blackburn, a turning point in the career of Ferdinand, who then felt his time was up at St James' Park. 

3. Faustino Asprilla (1996-1998)

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    As one of Newcastle United's all-time crazy characters, Faustino Asprilla makes it into the top five despite not boasting the best goal ratio.

    In domestic competition, the extravagant Colombian managed only nine goals in 48 games. Largely down to being behind Alan Shearer and Les Ferdinand in the pecking order as well as struggling to adapt to English weather, Asprilla's finest moments came in Europe.

    Scoring nine goals in just 11 games in European competition, Asprilla made himself a Newcastle hero when he scored a hat-trick in the Nou Camp against Barcelona. Newcastle won the game 3-2 and is remembered as one of the best matches in Geordie history, as they turned over the likes of Luis Enrique and Sergi.

    Asprilla will be remembered mostly for his crazy antics, at times frustrating manager Kenny Dalglish with his elaborate celebrations and off-field shenanigans. The trademark Asprilla celebration involved numerous somersaults and shirt removal, and he would regularly host parties and social gatherings at his rented home in Ponteland when not in action for the Magpies.

    The flamboyant striker can still sometimes be seen attending Newcastle matches when in England, and he enjoys a special relationship with Newcastle fans, as they remember the times when Asprilla would dazzle opponents with his rare combination of skill and speed.

2. Andy Cole (1993-1995)

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    Before Alan Shearer, this man was the goal machine on Tyneside. 

    Signed from Bristol City for a club-record £1.75 million, Andy Cole took no time to settle down and begin finding the net for his new club. 

    Twelve goals in his first 12 games signalled just what a player Newcastle had signed, and Cole went on to become one of Newcastle's greatest strikers, netting 68 goals in just 84 games for the Magpies. Cole still enjoys the best goals-to-games ratio of any Newcastle striker, and only Hughie Gallacher has scored more goals in a single domestic season.

    Cole eventually ended his Newcastle career when he moved to Old Trafford in a £6 million deal, a move that shocked many, as Cole seemed happy at Newcastle.

    The rest, they say, is history, as Cole went on to become one of United's most lethal strikers, scoring 93 league goals in a six-year spell.

    Perhaps the biggest disappointment for Cole was not getting the international recognition he deserved, as England manager Glenn Hoddle left him out of the 1998 World Cup squad. Overall, Cole only played 15 times for his country, scoring one goal.

    His performances for Newcastle see him comfortably make this list, though, and only one man can rank ahead of him.

1. Alan Shearer (1996-2006)

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    Who else could possibly top this list?

    In terms of Newcastle strikers, no one comes close to Alan Shearer.

    With 260 Premier League goals, 206 of those for his boyhood club, the all-time Premier League top goalscorer is head and shoulders above anyone else who has ever pulled on a Newcastle shirt.

    Shearer is, and forever will be, the ultimate Geordie hero. Ever since his £15 million move from Blackburn—who were Premiership champions at the time—Shearer was destined for greatness.

    As well as scoring hundreds of goals for Newcastle, Shearer also resisted the chance to move to Manchester United on numerous occasions, despite the promise of Premier League glory almost nailed on.

    Shearer also proved his worth on the international stage, scoring 30 goals in 63 games for his country and being part of the Euro 1996 squad that came close to lifting the trophy.

    Ever since retiring in 2006, Newcastle have had a few decent strikers, one of which has made this list, but it is highly doubtful that anyone will ever displace Shearer as No. 1.

Notable Mentions

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    Notable mentions must go to two men in particular when creating this list. 

    Firstly, Temuri Ketsbaia, who only didn't make the list due to officially being a midfielder. The Georgian's most memorable Newcastle moment came after he scored a goal and celebrated by removing his shirt and repeatedly kicking advertising boards behind the goal. 

    The act summed up Ketsbaia, who was lovable but had a serious screw loose at times. Also, it didn't make sense to include him in a list of top strikers when he only netted eight goals for Newcastle.

    Another man who also narrowly missed out was Peter Beardsley, who perhaps should have been ahead of Andy Carroll in the list. 

    Scoring 108 league goals in two spells at Newcastle, Beardsley was at his best when partnering with the likes of Les Ferdinand and Alan Shearer in the mid-1990s. The main reason for his omission from this list was because the collection was in danger of becoming an ode to the mid-'90s, when Newcastle were a genuine top side.

    Feel free to leave comments and have your say on who should have made the list or not, or hit me up on Twitter @91Marley.