THE TOP THREE ENGLISH STRIKERS OF THE LAST 30 YEARS
VIEW FROM THE TERRACE
At 18:58, on July 19 2019, The Terrace created a monster. It dared to ask you, the fans who fill The Terrace, for your 'Top three English strikers of the last 30 years.' For some it was too much. "Thierry Henry," one who struggles with comprehension declared, "Didier Drogba," claimed another.
However, the vast majority were able to comprehend nine words and a question mark and a total of 157 comments came flooding in. Among the gush were names of players past - David Hirst, Steve Bull, and Ian Wright - and just one player still active in the Premier League - Harry Kane. This was, of course, after the stewards at The Terrace had escorted silly suggestions off the premises. We are a serious establishment, don't you know?
Most chucked names into the hat - Andy Cole, Ian Wright, and Teddy Sheringham - and continued with their scrolling, but the most passionate of fans stayed for the chat. One such legend was Toby Giles.
"Footballing talent?" he asked nobody in particular, before answering his own question, "Rooney, Shearer, Sheringham." Having established that, Giles went on to offer Shearer, Kane, and Fowler for their finishing ability, and Rooney, Shearer, and Owen for their "get-you-off-your-seatness." His favourite, however, is Troy Deeney. The big man at The Terrace, Carl Sewell, approved. "This reasoning is exactly what we were looking for," he bellowed from the executive box.
John Oliver was another face on The Terrace and he was up for some proper debate, too. Kevin Phillips was one of his suggestions and it came justified - he's the only English European Golden Boot winner.
In the 1999/00 season, decked out in the red and white stripes of Sunderland, Phillips knocked 30 past opposition 'keepers. It has only been outdone nine times in the 19 years since. That year, he won the Premier League Player of the Season award, having finished as the league's top scorer by a clear seven goals, and it was all the more sweeter for Black Cats fans as it was Newcastle's Alan Shearer who finished second. Out of the 309 votes counted, it was the Toon striker who came out on top, though.
With practically a third of all votes going to the Southampton, Blackburn, and Newcastle striker (101), he finished night and day ahead of Gary Lineker in second (38), and Michael Owen in third (34). With 32 and 31 votes each, Wayne Rooney and Robbie Fowler were also standout performers. The gulf between that top five and the rest of the pack was noticeable. Down in sixth was Ian Wright with 18 putting him in their top three, and Harry Kane completed the top seven with 13. Interestingly, Sewell publicly stated he had a 'top 7,' but he was not available for comment.
With the numbers crunched and the pie charts eaten, we had our top four and we are ready to put it back to the people. Think of it as a second referendum: we asked you a fairly vague question without any particulars to get behind, but now we have clearly stated options and people might actually have gained some clarity by seeing four sensible choices on the table and the ridiculous politely ruled out.
It was painfully close between Rooney and Fowler for a place in the top four, but as Twitter polls only account for that amount, Fowler misses out. So, here's the case for our four lions.
Scorer of goals from his own half, derby day overhead kicks, and the national team's all-time top scorer, Rooney made his Premier League debut at the age of 16 and then for England at 17. He has since scored 28 in 117 for Everton, 253 in 559 for Manchester United, and 25 in 44 for DC United.
He is Manchester United's highest all-time goalscorer, despite never receiving a Golden Boot of any sort during his professional career, but has won the PFA Players' Player, PFA Young Player of the Year, PFA Fans' Player of the Year, and a place in the PFA Team of the Year on three separate occasions over a six year period.
In a ten year international career, Owen scored 40 goals in 89 appearances. Had it not been for injury, he would today likely be England's all-time top goalscorer. He burst onto the international stage in 1998, scoring 4 goals in 12 games for England, a return he equalled or bettered in six of the remaining nine years in the Three Lions set-up. His best year came in 2001 with six goals in eight games, including that hat-trick against Germany, accompanied by the legendary tones of Peter Brackley.
At club level, Owen won the Premier League Golden Boot twice, aged 18 and 19, but wasn't able to fire his side to the Premier League title; that winners' medal didn't find its way over his head until 2011, at which point he was a Manchester United player. It was his season ten years earlier that he will be remembered for, however, receiving the Ballon d'Or and the World Soccer World Player of the Year award, as he won the FA Cup, League Cup, Community Shield, UEFA Cup, and the UEFA Super Cup with Liverpool.
Lineker's career started in the 1978/79 season, with one league goal for Leicester City in the old Second Division. As Toby Giles pointed out in the comments, it is perhaps a very much late entry to a category defined as since 1989. That year, Lineker returned to England after a three year spell at Barcelona, joining Tottenham Hotspur.
From the point of return to his 1994 retirement in Japan, the man who scored 48 goals in 80 games for England, notched up 88 goals in 162 games. At a rate of 0.54 goals per game, it is actually above his career average of 0.51, meaning his best years, marginally, could have arguably been within our parameters. You decide.
The Leicester, Everton, Barcelona, Spurs, and Nagoya Grampus Eight striker, won five Top Scorer awards, including the FIFA World Cup Golden Boot in 1986, with six goals - more than Diego Maradona, Emilio Butragueno, and Careca.
The clear favourite for The Terrace's Best English Striker Award, Shearer bagged 30 goals in 63 games for England and 206 in 405 for Newcastle United. Floating around the goal every other game mark for his career as a whole, his best years goalscoring years were at Blackburn in which he scored 112 league goals in 138 league appearances - an astonishing rate of 0.81 goals per game - in a four-year spell at the club. In comparison, Thierry Henry's best four-year run brought 106 goals in 138 games - six fewer in the same amount of appearances.
On an individual level, Shearer won three consecutive Premier League Golden Boots between 1994 and 1997, has the most goals in Premier League history, the most Premier League hat-tricks (11), the most Premier League goals in a single match (5), and the top goalscorer in Newcastle United history.