Who is the greatest England striker of all time?
PUBLISHED: 12:00 30 June 2018
PA Archive/PA Images
Which one of these 13 players is England’s greatest striker of all time?
Tom Finney (1946-1958)
Finney made his England debut against Northern Ireland in Belfast, scoring once in England’s 7–2 victory. Finney referred to this as his “proudest day as a footballer”. He went on to win 76 caps and score 30 goals in an England career that spanned 13 years and included 51 victories. In June 1958, he scored his 29th international goal to become joint England all-time top-scorer, sharing the record with Vivian Woodward and Nat Lofthouse. In October the same year, he netted his 30th goal to become the sole holder of the record. Two weeks later, Lofthouse equalled his tally. Both were surpassed by Bobby Charlton in October 1963.
Nat Lofthouse (1950-1958)
Lofthouse was capped 33 times for England between 1950 and 1958, scoring 30 goals and giving himself one of the greatest goals-per-game ratios of any player to represent England.
Lofthouse earned the title ‘Lion of Vienna’ after scoring his second goal in England’s 3–2 victory over Austria in 1952. In doing so he was elbowed in the face, tackled from behind, and finally brought down by the goalkeeper. He featured in the 1954 World Cup side, scoring twice against Belgium and equalising against Uruguay in the quarter-final.
Jimmy Greaves (1959-1967)
Greaves scored 44 goals in 57 England internationals. He played in the 1962 and 1966 World Cup, but was injured in the group stage of the 1966 World Cup and lost his first team place to Geoff Hurst, who kept Greaves out of the first team in the final. England won the World Cup, but Greaves was not given his medal until a change of FIFA rules in 2009. He is in fourth place on the all-time list of England goalscorers, behind Wayne Rooney, Bobby Charlton and Gary Lineker. Greaves holds the record for most hat-tricks for England - six in all.
Bobby Charlton (1958-1970)
Charlton was selected for four World Cups (1958, 1962, 1966 and 1970), and helped England to win the competition in 1966. At the time of his retirement from the England team in 1970, he was the nation’s most capped player, having turned out 106 times. This record has since been held by Bobby Moore and Peter Shilton. Charlton’s record of 49 goals for his country was surpassed by Wayne Rooney in September 2015.
Geoff Hurst (1966-1972)
Hurst remains the only man to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final as England recorded a 4–2 victory over West Germany at the old Wembley Stadium in 1966. In total he scored 24 goals in 49 England appearances, and as well as success in the 1966 World Cup he also appeared at Euro 1968 and the 1970 World Cup.
Kevin Keegan (1972-1982)
Keegan scored his first international goal in his third appearance, against Wales in May 1974. He went on to captain England 31 times, retaining the captain’s armband until his international retirement after the 1982 World Cup. Keegan captained England at the 1980 Euros. He managed only one World Cup appearance after England failed to qualify for both the 1974 and 1978 tournaments. He finally reached a World Cup in 1982 and appeared as a substitute for the last 26 minutes of England’s final second round game against hosts. Keegan won a total of 63 caps and scored 21 goals.
Gary Lineker (1984-1992)
Lineker holds England’s record for goals in World Cup finals, with 10 scored. He earned 80 caps and scored 48 goals, finishing as England’s second highest scorer behind Bobby Charlton, before he was overtaken by Wayne Rooney. His international goals-to-games ratio remains one of the best for the country and he is regarded as one of the all-time best English strikers. He was top scorer in the 1986 World Cup and received the Golden Boot, the only time an Englishman has done so.
Peter Beardsley (1986-1996)
Beardsley represented his country 59 times between 1986 and 1996, scoring nine goals, and took part in two World Cups (1986 and 1990) and Euro 1988. Beardsley became a regular in the England side in the second half of the 1980s, and teamed up with striker Gary Lineker, who described Beardsley as “the best partner I could ever have”.
Alan Shearer (1992-2000)
Due to replace Gary Lineker, who retired from international action after Euro 1992, in the England attack, Shearer played only intermittently in the qualifying campaign for the 1994 World Cup due to injury and the team failed to reach the competition finals. Euro 1996 was a more positive experience for Shearer - his five goals made him the competition’s top scorer. Shearer was appointed captain for the 1998 World Cup qualifiers and scored a total of five goals in England’s successful campaign for the World Cup. From his 63 caps, he captained the team 34 times and scored 30 goals; joint-fifth in the England all-time goalscorers list with Nat Lofthouse and Tom Finney.
Teddy Sheringham (1993-2002)
Sheringham was capped 51 times for England, scoring 11 times. He appeared in the 1998 and 2002 World Cups, as well as the 1996 European Championship. A versatile forward, Sheringham was capable of playing as a striker and also as a supporting forward, courtesy of his ability both to score and create goals. Due to his vision, his ability to read the game, and his short passing ability, Sheringham was capable of playing off another striker, in a deeper, creative role, where he served as an assist provider, in particular in later years.
Michael Owen (1998-2008)
Owen first played for the England team in 1998, becoming England’s youngest player and youngest goalscorer at the time. His performance at the 1998 World Cup brought him to international prominence and he went on to score in Euro 2000, the 2002 World Cup and Euro 2004. He is the only player to have scored in four major tournaments for England. He is England’s 11th-most-capped player with 89 appearances and has scored a former national record (since overtaken by Wayne Rooney) of 40 goals for his country.
Wayne Rooney (2003-2016)
Rooney made his international debut for England in February 2003 aged 17, becoming the youngest player to represent England (a record since broken by Theo Walcott) and he is England’s youngest ever goalscorer. He played at Euro 2004 and scored four goals, briefly becoming the youngest goalscorer in the history of the European Championship. Rooney has since featured at the 2006, 2010 and 2014 World Cups and was widely regarded as his country’s best player. He has won the England Player of the Year award four times, in 2008, 2009, 2014 and 2015. With 53 goals in 119 international caps, Rooney is England’s all-time record goalscorer and second most-capped player, behind Peter Shilton.
Harry Kane (2015-present)
Kane made his international debut at Wembley Stadium, replacing Wayne Rooney in the second half of the match against Lithuania, and scoring just 80 seconds later with a header from a Raheem Sterling cross. He was made captain for the 2018 World Cup and scored both of England’s goals in their opening game, as they beat Tunisia 2–1. He has scored 18 goals in 26 appearances for England.