11 of football’s greatest goalpoachers: Inzaghi, Lineker, Klose and more

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Wednesday marks the birthday of one of the greatest goalscorers in the history of the game, Filippo Inzaghi, and to mark the occasion we’re remembering more of the best poachers, featuring former Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool forwards.

Despite being regarded as having a relative lack of technical ability, Inzaghi became one of the most feared strikers in Serie A due to his killer instinct whenever the ball was in or around the penalty area.

“That lad must have been born offside,” Sir Alex Ferguson famously commented on the Italian, while Johan Cruyff said: “Look, he can’t play football at all, he just knows how to get in the right place.”

While his style may not have been easy on the eye, Inzaghi ended his career with 288 goals in 623 club appearances, 25 goals in 57 Italy caps, plus three Serie A title and two Champions League crowns among a host of honours.

To mark Inazghi turning 44, here are 10 more players who cared about one thing and one thing only: putting the ball into the back of the net.

Gary Lineker

Revered as the ultimate gentleman due to his unblemished disciplinary record, Lineker was nonetheless deadly in front of goal, scoring over 300 goals for club and country, including an El Clasico hat-trick and six goals at Mexico 86 to become the only English player to win the Golden Boot at a World Cup.

The former Everton, Tottenham and Barcelona hitman perfected the art so much so that his production company is called Goalhanger Films Ltd.

Ruud Van Nistelrooy

As Steven Chicken noted in his tribute to the former Manchester United striker, watching back Van Nistelrooy’s goals for the Red Devils is almost hypnotic, as he manages to repeat the same trick time after time.

The Dutchman’s specialty involved taking the ball as close as possible to the goal, before somehow squeezing it past the goalkeeper just as the chance seemed lost.

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READ: A tribute to Ruud van Nistelrooy and the playground art of goalhanging

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Javier Hernandez

West Ham fans expect one thing and one thing only from Hernandez this season: goals. The Mexico striker isn’t going to drop deep and link up play, nor is he going to bully defenders for the benefit of his team-mates. The 29-year-old’s signing was met by plenty of excitement, however, due to his instincts in sniffing out a goal.

With a club record just shy of a goal every other game and an international record bang on that mark (46 goals in 98 appearances), Chicharito has found a more than useful niche.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar

Modern football has a strange relationship with strikers whose only use is forcing the ball home over the line. Huntelaar is nicknamed ‘The Hunter’ for a reason, but he never quite fit in during his biggest chances at Real Madrid and AC Milan.

Even so, with 309 goals in 533 appearances, the Dutchman has been prolific for the tier of clubs below, scoring 36 goals in consecutive seasons for Ajax and bagging 48 in 48 games for Schalke in 2011-12.

Andy Cole

One of the greatest examples of how spoilt for choice England were in terms players to lead the line during the 90s. Cole still sits third in the list of the top goalscorers in the history of the Premier League with 187 goals, yet he only earned 15 caps for his country over six years, scoring only once.

Between 1992 and 2006, Cole failed to reach double figures in a single campaign just twice.

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Ally McCoist

Famed as much for his sense of humour as his goalscoring exploits – the striker once arrived late for a meeting with Rangers chairman Sir David Murray only to declare: “Sorry, Mr Chairman, but this is the earliest I have been late for some time.” – McCoist thrived in the role of ‘small man’ in his big-man-small-man partnership with Mark Hateley.

After a disappointing spell with Sunderland, McCoist returned north of the border to become Rangers’ record goalscorer at a time when the SPL was flooded with top quality talent.

Miroslav Klose

Just watch all 16 of Klose’s goals at World Cup tournaments, it is an absolute masterclass in the dark arts of goalpoaching.

Nobody has scored more goals at a World Cup, yet not a single effort comes from further out than the penalty spot, with an extremely unscientific calculation suggesting the 16 goals came from a cumulative distance of 105 yards out, at an average of 6.6 yards per goal.

Absolutely beautiful.

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Not only one of the Premier League’s greatest super subs, Solskjaer will always be famed as a fox in the box.

There is no greater example of both than the 1999 Champions League final, pouncing inside the six-yard area in injury time to fire Manchester United to a dramatic victory.

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READ: A tribute to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Man Utd’s great bargain and Mr Reliable

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Ian Wright

“Arsenal have needed a natural goalscorer since Ian Wright and now they’ve got one,” Paul Merson told Goal after the Gunners completed the signing of Alexandre Lacazette earlier this summer.

Thierry Henry and Robin Van Persie may take umbrage with that quote, but it speaks volumes about Wright’s relentless habit of putting the ball in the back of the net, becoming the north Londoners’ record goalscorer before a certain Frenchman came and took that honour away from him.

Michael Owen

A polarising figure nowadays – to put it kindly – but Owen was one of the most thrilling goalscorers in world football during his ridiculously young pomp, winning the Ballon d’Or when he was still only 22.

Owen’s career went on to be blighted by injuries, but in his Liverpool heyday the striker hit at least 20 goals in five of his seven full seasons at Anfield, only falling one short in 2003-04.

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READ: Michael Owen: Reassessing the career of an incredible goalscorer

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