Since its inaugural season in 1992/93, the Premier League has created many memorable moments. From Peter Schmeichel’s impossible-looking save against John Barnes to Jurgen Klinsmann’s ‘diving’ goal celebration against Sheffield Wednesday to Dennis Bergkamp’s mind-boggling goal against Newcastle, the EPL has never failed to entertain with its assortment of characters and storylines. Over this time, heroes and villains have come and gone. The managers and players we love and support get our praise and applause. Those we despise receive a downpour of taunting and heckling – even if they can’t hear us through the television.
Of all the events and actions on the pitch, it’s the goal scoring which produces, arguably, the most exciting moments. Games cannot be won without scoring a goal. Fans will gasp and applaud at a great tackle or decisive pass, however the goal is the one event which will cause a stadium to erupt in almost uncontrolled celebration. Goals and goal scorers are indeed special. This is seen in the EPL’s Player of the Month awards. Of the 180 awards handed out in its history, 150 have gone to forwards and defenders, the positions most likely to be involved in scoring.
Over the years, many players have had excellent goal-scoring records in the EPL. Some have been a flash in the pan, maybe having one or two good scoring seasons before fading off or moving on to another league. Others have shown greater endurance and goal scoring consistency putting them near the top every season when it comes to goal production. As years turn into decades, certain players have solidified their position as the greatest goal scorers in Premier League history. Unsurprisingly, the list is dominated by English players, with there being only two foreign born individuals in the top ten. Five of the top 10 on this list have never won a Golden Boot and two have never lifted the Premier League trophy. These are the ten highest scoring players in EPL history.
10. Robin van Persie, 133 Goals (and Counting)
Since 2004, Robin van Persie has played for Arsenal and Manchester United. The Dutch striker has so far made 249 appearances and scored 133 times. His goals-per-game rate of 0.53 is the third best of the players on this list. Despite spending a significant amount of time injured at Arsenal, van Persie still managed 96 goals over eight seasons. His move to Manchester United has so far witnessed him score a further 37 times. He has been named Player of the Month five times and won the Golden Boot in each of the previous two Premier League seasons. Van Persie’s only EPL title was hoisted with Manchester United in the 2012/13 season.
9. Teddy Sheringham, 146 Goals
From 1992 to 2007, Sheringham played for five EPL clubs, including two terms at Tottenham. In all, the English forward made 418 Premier League appearances and scored 146 goals. In terms of goals, the seven seasons spent at Tottenham were the most productive with Sheringham netting 98 times. In terms of silverware, his time at Manchester United was most productive with three EPL titles between 1998 and 2001. Other awards included the first Golden Boot ever given in the EPL, two Player of the Months, one PFA Players’ Player of the Year and one PFA Team of the Year award.
8. Les Ferdinand, 149 Goals
From 1992 until 2005, Les Ferdinand played for six Premier League clubs. Beginning with QPR and ending with Bolton, the English striker’s best stint was at Newcastle from 1995 to 1997, where he racked up 41 goals. Ferdinand made 351 appearances in the league of which 118 were with Tottenham. His total EPL score total is 149, putting him just three ahead of Teddy Sheringham. Ferdinand didn’t win any EPL titles or Golden Boots during his career. He was named the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and named to the PFA Team of the Year in 1996.
7. Michael Owen, 150 Goals
Currently a pundit for BT Sports football coverage, Owen made his mark on the pitch as a striker. Between 1996 and 2013, the diminutive Englishman played for four EPL teams. With Liverpool, Owen had his most productive years, scoring 118 goals in eight seasons. A brief stint at Real Madrid in La Liga was followed up with a return to the EPL in 2005 with Newcastle, followed by Manchester United and Stoke. Overall, Owen made 326 league appearances and scored 150 times. Remarkably, Owen never had a season where he scored more than 19 goals, yet he claimed two Golden Boots between 1997 and 1999. He lifted the EPL trophy once, in the 2010-2011 season with Manchester United.
6. Robbie Fowler, 163 Goals
Robbie Fowler’s EPL career began in 1993 and lasted until 2009. Over that time he played for four Premier League clubs, including two stints at Liverpool. His time at Liverpool marked the high point of his career, amassing over 120 goals. He was never able to replicate this form with Manchester City, Leeds or Blackburn. In total, the English striker made 379 appearances and netted 163 times. Although he won no league titles or Golden Boots over his career, Fowler left a lasting impression. Most will remember his celebration following a goal against city rivals Everton. Folwer ran over to the penalty box line and simulated that he was snorting it up – a jibe at Evertonians who had accused the striker of using drugs.
5. Wayne Rooney, 167 Goals (and Counting)
Hailed as one of the best English talents in the EPL by Arsenal coach Arsène Wenger, Rooney quickly rose to prominence after his first senior team appearance with Everton in 2002. Since then, ‘Wazza’, the nickname given to the stocky English forward, has amassed 167 goals in 368 appearances. Over 150 goals have come during his current ten year tenure at Old Trafford. As he is only 28 years old, Rooney is likely to add to these figures considerably over the coming years. Although he has never won a Golden Boot, Rooney has lifted the EPL trophy five times since the 2006/07 season. Additional accolades include five Player of the Month awards, one Barclays Player of the Year award and one PFA Player of the Year award.
4. Frank Lampard, 170 Goals (and Counting)
An icon of Chelsea FC, Lampard has made a list-topping 607 appearances, so far, in the Premier League. Most of these have been made over his thirteen year stay at Stamford Bridge, his current home after playing six seasons at West Ham United. Since the start of the 1995/96 season, the English midfielder has scored a total of 170 league goals. His goals-per-game rate of 0.28 is the lowest on this list, yet that is to be expected given the position Lampard plays and the number of appearances he has made. Integral to Chelsea’s success, Lampard has been named Premier League Player of the Season twice and has hoisted the EPL trophy three times since the 2004/05 season. The 35 year old is the only midfielder to have scored over 150 goals and looks set to increase his tally even further.
3. Thierry Henry, 175 goals
Thierry Henry stands out on this list for a number of reasons. As well as being the highest scoring non-Englishman in league history, the French forward is the only player to achieve his record with just one club. From 1999 to 2007, and a two month loan spell in 2012, Henry scored 175 goals for Arsenal. This figure is made even more impressive by the fact it was done in just 276 appearances, far fewer than all other players on this list with the exception of the still-active Robin van Persie. The resulting goals-per-game rate of 0.69 is the best of anyone in this top ten. During his Arsenal career, Henry claimed two EPL titles in the 2001/02 and 2003/04 season. Between 2001 and 2006, he claimed four Golden Boots for top scorer, the most of anyone in EPL history.
2. Andrew Cole, 187 goals
If there was ever a journeyman of the EPL, Andy Cole was it. Before the 1992/93 inaugural season, Cole played for Arsenal, Fulham and Bristol City. His first official season in the EPL was with Newcastle United in 1994, a team he helped gain promotion to the Premier League the previous year. Cole’s EPL career lasted until the 2007/08 season with Sunderland. Of the seven Premier League teams he played for, Manchester United will be remembered the best, as the English striker scored 93 goals over six seasons with the Red Devils. In total, Cole made 414 league appearances and scored 187 goals. While he only claimed one Golden Boot for being top scorer in the 1993/94 season, he lifted the EPL trophy five times between 1995 and 2001 – all with Manchester United.
1. Alan Shearer, 260 Goals
By far and away, top spot on this list belongs to Alan Shearer. His Premier League career began with Blackburn Rovers where he spent four seasons. Most fans, however, will identify Shearer with Newcastle United, a club he spent ten years with before retirement. From the inaugural 1992/93 Premier League season until 2006, Shearer made 441 appearances and scored 260 goals – giving him a goals-per-game rate of 0.59. Despite his lethality in front of goal, he only lifted the EPL trophy once, with Blackburn in the 1994/95 season. Between 1994 and 1997, the English striker took home the Golden Boot three times for being the league’s top scorer. Given the significant gap between Shearer and the rest of the field, it is unlikely he will be ousted.