In most ballgames like basketball and tennis, points aren’t that difficult to come by. In contrast, goals in football come few and far between. In fact, it’s not completely surprising for games in the sport to end in 0-0 draws; part of the reason why each football goal scored is celebrated heartily.
As a result of the rarity of goals, the list of footballers who have scored 300 goals in their entire career is quite a short one. Even shorter still is the record of players who have scored 300 goals for a single club. In fact, so exclusive are 300-goal scorers for a club that players who are able to accomplish the feat are considered club heroes. And of course, with that badge of heroism usually comes a hefty salary.
Here are the ten players who have been able to achieve 300 career goals for a single club, their rankings based on their current net worths:
10. Uwe Seeler / Hamburger / 404 Goals / $1.2 Million
Uwe Seeler is a retired German footballer who played for Hamburger SV throughout most of his career as an athlete from 1953 to 1972. In those years, the captain of his club team and national team amassed an astounding 404 goals in 519 appearances, displaying his renowned overhead kick and aerial ability.
For his efforts, Seeler earned the 1960 German championship and the 1963 DFB-Pokal. Individually, Seeler was the top scorer of the first Bundesliga season 1963-1964 and was named German Footballer of the Year in 1960, 1964 and 1970. He is also known as one of the greatest players in the history of German football.
Actually, Seeler would have been known as a Hamburger SV for life since he retired in 1972 having played for only that team throughout his entire professional career. However, in 1978, he and former teammate Franz-Josef Hönig played for Cork Celtic FC in what they thought was a non-bearing event. It turned out that the match was an official League of Ireland game, and because he scored twice, Seeler’s career sheet contains two goals credited under his time with Cork Celtic.
9. Gerd Müller / Bayern Munich / 566 Goals / $2 Million
Gerd Müller is one of the most prolific goalscorers of all time with national records of 68 goals in 62 international appearances and 365 goals in 427 Bundesliga games. He also holds the international record of 68 goals in 74 European club games he played throughout his career from 1963 to 1981. As a result, Müller is now tenth among all-time international goalscorers despite having played the least number of matches among all players in the top 25.
For the purpose of this list, however, what’s relevant is that “Bomber de Nation” (the nation’s bomber) has 566 goals with Bayern Munich alone, a club record that stands to this day. For this feat, among others, Müller was elected European Footballer of the Year in 1970.
Today, he is assistant manager for Bayern Munich II.
8. Ferenc Puskás / Budapest Honvéd / 374 Goals / $2.4 Million
Regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, the Hungarian Ferenc Puskás scored a club record 374 goals in 358 matches for Budapest Honvéd, where he played from 1943 to 1956. Aside from those, Puskás scored 84 goals in 85 international matches for Hungary, and 514 goals in 529 matches in the Hungarian and Spanish leagues. Furthermore, he won an Olympic gold medal in 1952, reached the World Cup Finals in 1954, and won three European Cups (1959, 1960, 1966), ten national championships (five Hungarian and five Spanish Primera División) and eight top individual scoring honors.
After retiring as a player, Puskás went into coaching, the highlight of his career coming in 1971, when he guided Panathinaikos to the European Cup final. His legend as a player, however, has been institutionalized through the FIFA Puskás Award, which is given to the player who scores what is determined to be the most beautiful goal over the past year.
7. Ian Rush / Liverpool / 346 Goals / $4.2 Million
Welsh footballer Ian Rush played for Liverpool from 1980 to 1987 then from 1988 to 1996. There, he became the club’s all-time leading goalscorer with a total of 346 goals in 660 appearances. Aside from playing for Liverpool, he also starred in Chester City, Juventus, Leeds United, Newcastle United, Sheffield United, Wrexham, and Sydney Olympic, along with playing for the Wales National Football Team where he also holds the record for the most goals scored (28).
In 1983, Rush was voted PFA Young Player of the Year. However, in international competition, Wales never qualified for a major tournament. His team actually came close to qualifying for the finals of the 1982, 1986, 1990 and 1994 World Cups, as well as the Euro 1984 and 1988 finals; however, their efforts always fell short. As a result, Rush is one of the few true football legends who was never able to play in a major international tournament.
6. Alfredo Di Stéfano / Real Madrid / 307 Goals / $6 Million
Argentine footballer Alfredo Stéfano di Stéfano Laulhé played with the Real Madrid team that won five straight trophies from 1956 to 1960. He actually played for the club from 1953 to 1964, and in that period became the club’s second-highest goalscorer of all time with his 307 goals in 396 appearances.
Di Stefano’s powerful and accurate attacks earned him the nickname “Saeta rubia” (blond arrow) and also allowed him to be dubbed “Golden Player of Spain: Most Outstanding Player of the Past 50 Years” in 2003. Furthermore, he is also widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, and in a vote organized by the French magazine “France Football”, was ranked fourth in balloting for the Football Player of the Century. In that list, he was behind only Pelé, Diego Maradona, and Johan Cruyff.
Currently residing in Spain after his retirement, Alfredo is Honorary President of Real Madrid and earned the honor of having the Alfredo di Stéfano Stadium, where Real Madrid trains, named after him.
5. Eusébio / Benefica / 473 Goals / $8.3 Million
Eusébio was actually born in Mozambique to an Angolan father, but since both Mozambique and Angola were overseas territories of Portugal, he was officially considered to be Portuguese. That was actually very fortunate for Portugal as the “Black Panther” turned out to be one of the best footballers of all-time and helped the 1966 Portuguese World Cup Team place third in the prestigious competition. There, the renowned football forward was the top goalscorer of the tournament with nine goals, justifying the Ballon d’Or he received in 1965.
In terms of club play, Eusébio played 15 years for Benfica, where he scored 473 goals in 440 appearances en route to eleven Primeira Liga titles, five Taça de Portugal titles, and one European Cup title. In fact, in the European Cup, he was the top scorer in 1965, 1966 and 1968. Eusébio has also been recognized as “Africa’s first great footballer” and “Africa’s greatest-ever player”.
4. Steve Bull / Wolverhampton Wanderers / 306 Goals / $9 Million
Steve Bull is best remembered for his thirteen-year stay with the Wolverhampton Wanderers. Unfortunately, the team never made it to the top tier of English football during Bull’s era, despite his spectacular collection of club records.
Perhaps it can be argued that it was because of the lack of quality players on Bull’s team that he was able to rack up such impressive records for the club. However, that doesn’t erase the fact that he broke no less than four of the Wanderers’ goalscoring records: all-time leading goalscorer (306 in 561 appearances), goals in the Football League (250), goals in a single season (52 in the 1987-1988 season) and number of hat tricks (18).
Ironically, the only game that “Bully” played in first-team football was not for Wolverhampton but for West Bromwich Albion in 1986, when he was taken in as a substitute for Andy Thompson.
3. Pelé / Santos / 643 Goals / $18 Million
But of course the legendary Pelé has a spot on this list. In fact, Edson Arantes do Nascimento scored the most number of goals for a single club with his 643 goals in 656 appearances for Santos, a team he played with for eighteen long years.
The epic stint with Santos began in 1956 when Pelé’s juniors coach, Waldemar de Brito, took the then fifteen-year-old player to the industrial and port city in the state of São Paulo to try out for the club. Speaking with Santos FC directors, de Brito dared to call the boy the future “greatest football player in the world”. Well, the recruiters liked what they saw, and signed the young man.
By 1957, at sixteen, Pelé was the top scorer in the league. And everyone knows how de Brito’s seemingly ridiculous claim turned out: his ward is, to this day, the only footballer to be a part of three World Cup-winning squads.
2. Raúl / Real Madrid / 323 Goals / $51.7 Million
Raúl González Blanco played for the local youth team in the San Cristóbal de los Ángeles neighborhood of Madrid before qualifying to be part of the Atlético Madrid youth team. Later, he would move to Real Madrid’s youth academy before signing his first professional contract with the fourth division Real Madrid C club. Later that same year, Raúl was promoted to Real Madrid’s first division team, where he played for sixteen long seasons from 1994 to 2010. In the process, he scored a club record 323 goals in 741 appearances, also a record number of Real Madrid appearances.
Today, playing for Al Sadd, Raúl is regarded as one of Spain’s greatest ever players after being the highest Spanish scorer in European national competitions with 225 goals. He is also third in the list of highest goal scorers (228 goals) in the history of La Liga competitions. Remarkably, too, Raúl has never received a red card in his entire career.
1. Lionel Messi / Barcelona / 327 Goals / $184.9 Million
Lionel Andrés Messi is the latest addition to the 300-goals-for-one-club clique, having scored his 300th goal with Barcelona in a La Liga match against Granada on February 16, 2013. That he appears at the top of this list is a testament to how football as a sport is richer than ever. In fact, in December 2012, Barcelona announced that Messi would sign a five-year contract extension that would keep him with the club until 2018 and raise his base salary to $21.2 million. That deal made him the highest on-the-pitch earner in football.
There is, however, good reason why the Argentine footballer is being paid such hefty amounts in salaries and endorsements: Messi is the first player to have received the Ballon d’Or four times, the superstar even doing so in consecutive years from 2009 to 2012. Furthermore, he also has to his credit six La Ligas, two Copas del Rey, five Supercopas de España, three UEFA Champions League trophies, two UEFA Super Cups and two Club World Cups.
In fact, because of these outstanding accomplishments, some commentators, coaches, and players have hailed Messi as not only “the best player in the world today” but even “the greatest footballer of all time”. The next couple of years will likely determine whether or not Messi will be able to live up to such stout billings.