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25 Best Soccer Strikers of All Time

Throughout history, strikers have always received quite a bit of attention on the soccer pitch. After all, they are the ones with the most opportunities to find the back of the net, so they become the stars and celebrities that so many fans look up to.

When looking through this list of the best soccer strikers of all time, most of these names will be very recognizable. They have all been very accomplished players throughout their careers, and some are still adding to their legacy. Below are the 25 best soccer strikers of all time, who all have their unique history and story to tell.

1. Lionel Messi

  • Average Goals Per Game: 0.86

There has never been a soccer player quite like Lionel Messi. The Argentinian striker has been a mainstay on Barcelona for his entire senior career, and it has been nearly impossible for teams to stop at any point.

Even to this day, he is still showing that he is very much in the latter part of his prime. He has not slowed down much, and Barcelona remains a top club team, thanks largely to him.

Some say he needs a World Cup to his name to solidify his #1 spot, but that comes down to Argentina just as much as it does on Messi. His individual skill and club success give him the top spot.

2. Cristiano Ronaldo

  • Average Goals Per Game: 0.76

More than a few people believe that Cristiano Ronaldo is the best striker of all time. There can certainly be a case made for him, as the Portuguese star has been able to find the back of the net for any team he plays for. 

He has a total of five Ballon d’Or trophies in his career, and he has been a focal point of the offense for Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Juventus.

3. Pele

  • Average Goals Per Game: 0.94

Some people might see Pele third on this list and be a little bit frustrated. It is always tough to rank the best athletes in a sport, and someone, as respected as Pele, should never be lower than number one in the eyes of some.

When looking at his numbers, there is an argument to be made that he should top this list, as he is one of the most decorated players ever to play.

He has the individual stats, but it is hard to argue with the team’s success as well. He is the winner of multiple world cubs, and his club team Santos dominated for closer to two decades as well. According to the Guinness World Records, he has 1279 goals in 1363 games, which is a record that might never be close to broken.

4. Ronaldo (R9)

  • Average Goals Per Game: 0.65

Ronaldo is one of the most underrated soccer players of all time. Despite being one of the best ever to play the game, Ronaldo does not get quite the amount of recognition that some might expect for a player who was so good during his prime.

Whether he was playing for PSV or Barcelona, Ronaldo had a very successful club career in Europe at a time when Brazilians were starting to head over there consistently.

For his efforts, he was a three-time world player of the year, and his two World Cup titles certainly add to his legacy. Unfortunately for him, he is no longer even the best Ronaldo striker ever, but fans will fondly remember him for everything he brought to the table for all the teams he suited up for.

5. Neymar

  • Average Goals Per Game: 0.61

The story of Neymar is still coming together, but he already deserves to be near the top of this list for what he has been able to accomplish.

The Brazilian forward had successful runs for Santos and Barcelona before moving to Paris St. Germain in 2017. He has also been a star for the Brazilian national team, but he is still looking for that elusive World Cup.

Still just 29 years old, Neymar has a chance to move up this list if he can put together a few more great seasons. He might never reach the top level, but he is as talented as any striker in soccer history.

6. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

  • Average Goals Per Game: 0.62

Up until this point on the list, most of the strikers have the same type of look and build. They are mostly fast and athletic players who can create offense in the open field if they need to. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a different type of striker that still has outstanding success. 

A big, physical striker who often can showcase strength to get possession, he is still putting together a solid career and adding to his legacy.

7. Marco Van Basten

  • Average Goals Per Game: 0.74

During the 1980s and 1990s, few strikers were nearly as complete as Marco Van Basten. He was a star for both Ajax and AC Milan, and he was the best player in the Netherlands during those years as well. He was a three-time recipient of the Ballon d’Or trophy, and he won World Player of the Year in 1982.

Despite all of his success, it is frustrating to see that he had to retire early due to medical issues. While many star strikers are playing well into their mid-30s, Van Basten missed out on a lot of that time as he was laying it on the line for his team.

8. Ferenc Puskas

  • Average Goals Per Game: 0.87

During Hungary’s heyday, Puskas might have been the best of the best. The striker scored 84 goals and 85 international matches for Hungary, including a run to the 1954 World Cup. He was also an Olympic champion for Hungary in 1952, leading the team to unprecedented success. 

The game has changed a lot since he was dominating, but his legacy will continue to live on in part through the FIFA Puskas award. It is given each year to the player who scored the most beautiful goal.

9. Robert Lewandowski

  • Average Goals Per Game: 0.72

Very quietly, Robert Lewandowski has put together one of the best careers in soccer history for a striker. The Polish national team leader has spent most of his professional career in Germany, suiting up for Borussia Dortmund and currently, Bayern Munich.

For Bayern Munich, he has turned into one of the most impressive players of all time. He is closing in on 200 goals with the club, and fans will remember him for years and years. His efficiency near the goal allows him to score in a variety of ways.

10. Eusebio

  • Average Goals Per Game: 0.75

The legend of Eusebio still looms large in Portugal, as well as all of Europe. Known as the Black Panther, he is Benfica’s all-time leading scorer as one of the best ever to do it. He scored 473 goals and 440 matches for the club, and he was a star for the Portuguese national team as well.

Portugal never won a World Cup during his time with the country, but he was the leading goal scorer in the 1966 World Cup. A former Ballon d’Or trophy winner, his style of play would translate well to today’s game

11. Luis Suarez

  • Average Goals Per Game: 0.65

As the face of the Uruguay national team for over a decade, Luis Suarez has shown that he can compete with the best in the world at the club level as well. He has spent most of his career over in Europe, with his longest stint at Barcelona from 2014 to 2020. 

The current standout for Atletico Madrid can still find the back of the net with the best of them, and his unique style of play makes it very hard for teams to shut them down.

12. Emilio Butragueno

  • Average Goals Per Game: 0.37

Emilio Butragueno was one of the most complete strikers in the history of soccer. Starring for Real Madrid, the man affectionately known as El Buitre did find a way to score during opportunistic times, but it is hard to argue with the results. 

He finished his senior career at the club level with 188 goals, and he added 26 to his total playing for the Spanish national team. Many considered his playing style a bit ahead of his time.

13. Romario

  • Average Goals Per Game: 0.75

With so many great Brazilian strikers throughout the history of the game, Romario sometimes gets overlooked. There is no disputing that he was one of the best goal scorers during his time, as he lays claim to scoring over 1000 goals throughout all the matches he participated in.

While some of the statistics are a bit off since they do count exhibition matches, it is hard to deny what he could do in the biggest matches. He was a prolific goal scorer for PSV Eindhoven and Barcelona, and he was the World Player of the Year in 1994.

14. Aguero

  • Average Goals Per Game: 0.57

With a few solid years left in him, Sergio Aguero has been the best striker for Argentina not named Lionel Messi during his run. Playing his club games in the English Premier League for Manchester City, he has been a star for the last decade. 

He is up to over 180 goals during his tenure with the club, and he has another 97 during his stints with Independiente and Atletico Madrid. Some have said he is a bit undersized, but his elusiveness and passing ability have made him very tough to match up.

15. Gerd Muller

  • Average Goals Per Game: 0.9

It is very hard to compare strikers 50 or more years ago to modern players, but Gerd Muller was in a class of his own in the 1960s and 1970s.

He was able to find the back of the net 68 times in just 62 matches for West Germany, and he was almost as prolific of a scorer in Bundesliga matches as well. His 365 goals are still one of the best in history, and no team could completely slow him down.

The man known as Der Bomber might not seem that impressive when watching old clips, but during his heyday, teams had no answer for him. He was arguably the best player in Europe during his prime.

16. Alfredo Di Stefano

  • Average Goals Per Game: 0.7

When the Argentinian moved teams to Real Madrid, he became one of the great goal scorers in the game. This was the first time on a truly international stage, since some people questioned whether he could do this after playing for River Plate, Huracan, and Millonarios in Argentina.

He exceeded expectations and turned into one of the toughest individual talents in soccer during his prime.

17. Jimmy Greaves

  • Average Goals Per Game: 0.68

Simply going by the numbers, no British striker has ever scored as many top-level goals as Jimmy Greaves. Whether he was starring for Chelsea or Tottenham Hotspur, he found a way to score 357 times. He was the top goal scorer in the highest division in England for six separate years, and his success did not stop at the club level.

His legacy was cemented in 1966 when he was part of the World Cup-winning team for England. Still considered a legend by many, he, without question, deserves recognition on any list as an early striker capable of scoring in a hurry.

18. Fernando Peyroteo

  • Average Goals Per Game: 1.63

When Fernando Peyroteo joined Sporting Lisbon as a youngster, many had no idea what he could bring to the table. 541 goes later, he was one of the most prolific goal scorers the game has ever seen.

For one reason or another, he gets overlooked compared to Eusebio, but he was a very talented striker in his own right. He was able to create offense for himself and others in a variety of ways that helped his club to quite a bit of success.

19. Sandor Kocsis

  • Average Goals Per Game: 0.64

When Hungary was at the top of world soccer, Sandor Kocsis was right there as a major reason why. He found a way to score 11 times during the 1958 World Cup, but Hungary still lost in that tournament. He was able to succeed at the club level not only for Honved Budapest, but Barcelona in Spain.

Being able to score in bunches was always a major calling card for Kocsis. A person has to look no further than noticing that he had a total of seven Hattrick’s during his career just for Hungary alone.

20. Arthur Friedenreich

  • Average Goals Per Game: 1.08

Going way, way back into the archives, Arthur Friedenreich deserves mention just for what he accomplished during the early days of soccer. In the Sao Paulo League, he was the top goal scorer through most of the 1910s and even into the 1920s. To this day, no one has led that league in goal-scoring more than eight seasons.

It is impossible to even think about comparing him to modern-day strikers, but he was in a class by himself during his prime. In order to tell the history of the game, he deserves some mention.

21. Kylian Mbappe

  • Average Goals Per Game: 0.67

Making this list anywhere is a huge accomplishment for someone as young as Kylian Mbappe. He has shown so far early in his career that he has a chance to be one of the all-time greats as long as he stays healthy and focused. He already has a World Cup title to his name with France, and he is a star for Paris St. Germain right now.

No one knows what the future holds for Mbappe, but he is on pace to be one of the all-time greats. His blend of speed, athleticism, and knowledge of the game makes him nearly impossible to shut down completely.

22. Josef Bican

  • Average Goals Per Game: 1.53

Maybe the most controversial pick for this list is Josef Bican. When he came up through the ranks, the Austrian/Hungarian never left Eastern Europe during his prime. That means that many people are not quite sure what to make of 607 goals in 406 games.

People know that he was one of the fastest players of his era, and his agility made him a matchup nightmare for any team he went up against. Maybe he would be higher up on this list if he was able to prove himself against everyone around the world.

23. Paolo Rossi

  • Average Goals Per Game: 0.25

In the 1982 FIFA World Cup, Paolo Rossi was able to really solidify himself as one of the best strikers in the game. He looks like he was carrying the Italian team on his back at times, as he scored six total goals. He was even the first person to find the back of the net in the final, as they beat Germany 3 to 1.

Domestically, he mostly starred for Juventus, and he was able to win several team titles along the way. A player known for being able to dictate the pace of matches in a lot of ways, he found ways to win one way or another.

24. Uwe Seeler

  • Average Goals Per Game: 0.8

Known as a very consistent striker throughout his career, Uwe Seeler found ways to score at a high level for a long time. He finished his career with 72 caps for Germany and 43 goals, starring in four World Cups for the country as well.

Although he never won a World Cup title, he helped his country be one of the most consistent teams during his era.

25. Gunnar Nordahl

  • Average Goals Per Game: 0.77

Another player from years ago, Gunnar Nordahl deserves recognition for what he was able to accomplish for Sweden as a striker. For his country, he won an Olympic gold medal in 1948. They were unable to compete in the World Cup, but that has more to do with the lack of talent in Sweden than anything.

For AC Milan, he is a prolific goal scorer who lives on to this day. In total, he finished with 446 goals in his career with 520 matches under his belt. Many still consider him the best Scandinavian player of all time.

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