Getting paid for scoring goals has to be one of the best jobs in the world and forwards have to know that better than anybody. They get paid for kicking a ball into a net and make several people happy; what can be better? However, there have been players that have exceeded as strikers, scoring goals with extreme ease on a weekly basis, most of the time humiliating rivals with their scores.
Nowadays we have players who are very good at it, but throughout history, we got to see some assets that truly succeed as strikers even in a time where the game wasn’t as fast and intense as today. Some of them you never heard about, but these are the 10 best strikers in football history.
10. Arthur Friedenreich
At the beginning of the 20th century, a new type of striker was born since Arthur Friedenreich made a total revolution in football with his performances. Born to a German businessman father and an Afro-Brazilian mother, Friedenreich made a total revolution in football back in his days.
He was a player that didn’t care about anything when it came to playing football. Albeit black people weren’t allowed to play football during the beginning of the century, Arthur managed to do so and he did it a great way. He scored more goals (1329) than Pele – considered the best footballer ever. Friedenreich went to finish as top scorer in the Sao Paulo League in several years (1912, 1914, 1917, 1918, 1919, 1921, 1927 and 1929), doing something that not even Pele could do.
9. Sandor Kocsis
Sandor Kocsis was truly one-of-a-kind player during his prime, as he led the Hungary national team –one of the best in history- alongside a group of players that took the team to be the best in the world during some part of the last century. Kocsis was truly a beast both with his national side and the clubs he played.
Kocsis had marvelous performances with his clubs, scoring more than 150 goals for Honved Budapest where he managed to be the best scorer in any European league before taking his talents to Barcelona, where he had a similar fate, scoring more than 100 goals in 184 appearances with the Blaugrana. He scored seven hat-tricks for Hungary and is considered one of the best goal scorers in history.
8. Marco van Basten
Here we have one of the most famous and spectacular strikers in history. If it wasn’t for his early retirement, he would be higher in this list, as Marco was seeing as a player with incredible talent and very ahead of his time.
He scored one of the most memorable goals in football history during the 1988 European Championship final that saw his national side become champion of Europe for the first time. He had two remarkable stints with both Ajax and Milan, becoming a worldwide-recognized player. Marco thrived during Milan’s league title and European Cups. His career was abruptly stopped due to an injury when he was only 28 years old.
Romario de Souza Faria was a forward who even during the last days of his career managed to thrive in his hometown Brazil after having great tenures in the old continent. He was very talented with the ball on his feet and a one of the deadliest in front of the net’s rival, becoming a prone scorer despite not being one of the tallest players in the world.
With more than 700 goals combined between his national team and the clubs where he played, Romario is considered one of the most talented and prolific scorers in football history. People like Johann Cruyff said he was a “genius of the goal area”, while Ronaldo stated that “he was a great goal scorer, finisher, skillful and opportunist”. He was definitely one of the best of our times.
6. Alfredo Di Stefano
Di Stefano is a complete legend; even if you hate the club he represented the most, Real Madrid. Alfredo became a myth playing for Los Blancos, where he helped the team to win several titles, including the five consecutive European Cups Real Madrid won through 1955-1960.
He was able to score 216 with La Casa Blanca (the White House) in the La Liga while creating a great squad with players like Ferenc Puskas or Gento, who lift Madrid to the top of both Europe and the world. Di Stefano started his career representing Argentina, even winning the Copa America in 1947; later on, he went to represent Spain and subsequently with Colombia.
5. Gerd Muller
Gerhard “Gerd” Muller is still nowadays recognized as one of the best strikers in history thanks to his performances and scores with both the German national side and Bayern Munich – where he spent most of his career, becoming a referent for players that came after him.
Muller’s abilities and technique made him a feared striker who didn’t have doubts in front of the net. He was very prolific, had a very good aim when shooting the ball and was really dangerous both inside and outside the box. Throughout his career, he was awarded European Player of the Year (1970), German Player of the Year (1967 and 1969) and also was the Bundesliga top scorer in more than five years. Muller was the top scorer in World Cups until Ronaldo broke his record in 2006.
4. Ferenc Puskas
Puskas was the perfect partner for one of our picks, Sandor Kocsis, since these two created a great duo during their stints with the “Magical Magyars”, becoming one of the best national sides we’ve witnessed in history. He’s not only regarded as one of the best strikers but one of the best footballers overall.
Ferenc was great and idolized both in Hungary and Real Madrid. He scored 84 goals for his national team in just 85 appearances; just like the aforementioned Kocsis, he destroyed the Hungarian league with 352 goals with Budapest Honved before getting to Los Blancos, where he dispatched with 156 goals, even though he was 31 at the time.
The biggest regret of his career was losing the 1954 FIFA World Cup final to Germany in one of the biggest upsets in football records. That could have been the cherry on the top for a career full of joys and prizes.
This was a player who took the world by storm at a very young age – just like our first pick, displaying his great game, making himself a known name during the beginning of the 60s. It was during the 1966 FIFA World Cup that Eusebio showed all his quality, trashing rivals on his way to the semis, where his Portugal side lost to the hosts, England, where the fairytale ended.
Eusebio had a marvelous career, leading both Portugal national team and Benfica to rack up plenty of awards during all the years he competed. Throughout his career, Eusebio managed to score more than 600 goals, won the Ballon d’Or and became the first-ever winner of the European Golden Boot in 1968; he was awarded the Golden booth in 1973, too.
Ronaldo Nazario is, without any hesitation, the prime example of the perfect striker. Ronnie was a guy that wasn’t scared of trying new things on the pitch, was extremely talented, skillful and one of the best ever to play the game. With stints in Inter and Barcelona during his youth, Ronaldo knew how to shock the world and became the next big thing in the football world.
He landed in Real Madrid where even though he didn’t perform the same way he used before his tragic knee injury, O Fenomeno (The Phenomenon) didn’t disappoint and increased his legend both in the club and the Brazilian national team. Ronnie was the top scorer of the World Cups until Miroslav Klose broke his record, won two FIFA World Cups (1994 and 2002) and was a recipient of the Ballon d’Or twice, among other prizes.
The number one striker on our list is also considered the best footballer in history in the eyes of many fans. Edson Arantes do Nascimento is widely regarded as the best that has ever played the game, stating that he was not a star, but a legend in the making, when he shocked the world with his displays at the FIFA World Cup back in 1950, where he became a World Champion only at age 17, meaning this the beginning of a very wonderful career.
Throughout his career, Pele racked up impressive numbers, setting plenty of records during that time. He is Brazil's top scorer as well as Santos' top scorer; he has the most league goals with 541, scored a impressive amount of goals with 1281 among other collective awards such as the Copa Libertadores twice –creating the legend of the Pele’s Santos, a team with no competition in America, who had to play several exhibition matches against more competitive rivals, and the FIFA World Cup three times.
Albeit he didn’t have any competition in America with his Santos, nobody doubts that Pele was simply the best and that he remains like that today, as there hasn’t been anyone better than the King Pele.