Football is a team sport, but the individual players make it special. Who are the best of the best? Let’s rank the top 10 forward players in the premier league of all time and find out! This article dives into what makes these players stand out from the rest and why they deserve to be on this list.
So without further ado, here are the top 10 forward players in Premier League history
In modern football, there is no more important position on the pitch than that of the striker. The striker is tasked with putting the ball in the back of the net and winning games for their team. There have been some truly world-class strikers in the Premier League over the years.
Also Read: The Best Footballers after Ronaldo and Messi
Here are the 10 greatest forwards of all time:
10. Didier Drogba
Didier Yves Drogba Tébily, born March 11 1978, is a retired Ivorian footballer who played as a striker. He is the Ivory Coast national team’s all-time top scorer and former captain. He is most known for his career with Chelsea, where he scored more goals than any other foreign player and is currently the club’s fourth-highest goal scorer.
In a poll of 20,000 Chelsea fans conducted by Chelsea FC Magazine in 2012, Drogba was named the club’s greatest-ever player and named to the Chelsea team of the 2010-2020 decade by Chelsea FC Magazine in 2020. He is considered one of the greatest African players ever, and he was known for his physical strength, speed, ability in the air, powerful and accurate strikes, and ball retention. Drogba won the African Footballer of the Year award in 2006 and 2009. He is also the player with the most runner-up finishes (4), third-place finishes (3), and top-three appearances (9).
9. Robbie Fowler
Robert Bernard Fowler (born April 9 1975) is a former English football manager who most recently managed East Bengal in the Indian Super League.
He was a striker as a player and is the eighth-highest Premier League goalscorer. He is primarily remembered for his stint at Liverpool, which lasted from 1993 until 2001. He scored 183 goals for Liverpool, garnering him the moniker “God” from Anfield fans, and he is still the Premier League’s top scorer.
He later played at Leeds United and Manchester City before rejoining Liverpool in January 2006. Eighteen months later, he joined Cardiff City. He stayed for a year before joining Blackburn Rovers on a short-term contract. He left Blackburn in December 2008 to play for North Queensland Fury and Perth Glory in Australia. He started out as a player at Muangthong United in 2011, but was quickly promoted to player manager, a position he held until his retirement in 2012.
He played 26 matches for England and scored seven goals. Fowler was a member of England’s teams for the World Cup in 2002, Euro 2000, and Euro 1996. Fowler, who was socially conscious, supported the Liverpool dockers’ strike during a goal celebration in 1997, when he unveiled a t-shirt with the Calvin Klein “CK” inserted into the phrase doCKer.
8. Robin Van Persie
Robin van Persie is a former professional footballer and coach from the Netherlands. Van Persie, regarded as one of the finest attackers of his time, was known for his exceptional technique and ball control, as well as his astute positioning and vision. For the Netherlands national team, he is the all-time top scorer. In his first management position, he is currently the assistant manager of his childhood club Feyenoord.
Van Persie began his career as a winger and made his senior debut with Feyenoord during the 2001-02 season, which ended in triumph in the 2002 Dutch Cup Final; he was also named the UEFA Football Talent of the Year. He left Feyenoord after five years due to a disagreement with manager Bert van Marwijk, and he joined English club Arsenal in 2004 as a long-term successor for compatriot Dennis Bergkamp.
Manager Arsène Wenger turned Van Persie to a striker, and he went on to be a reliable goalscorer for Arsenal. Prior to joining rivals Manchester United in July 2012, he set a club record with 35 goals in 2011 and served as club captain for the 2011-12 season. He won the Premier League and his second consecutive Premier League Golden Boot in his debut season.
Van Persie fell out of favor at United after two injury-plagued seasons and was allowed to depart for Fenerbahçe in July 2015. Van Persie played consistently in Turkey during his first season. Still, he received little playing time in the next two seasons due to injuries, with both club and player agreeing to a buyout in January 2018, after which he rejoined Feyenoord on a free transfer. By the season’s conclusion, he had assisted his childhood club in winning the Dutch Cup, his first trophy since the FA Community Shield in 2013.
Van Persie made his senior international debut against Romania in 2005, after representing the Netherlands at the under-17, under-19, and under-21 levels. He scored his first senior international goal in a 4-0 triumph against Finland a month later.
Van Persie has almost 100 matches and has scored 50 goals for the Netherlands, serving as captain from 2013 to 2015. He has represented his country in the FIFA World Cups of 2006, 2010, and 2014 and the UEFA European Championships of 2008 and 2012.
7. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink
Jerrel Floyd “Jimmy” Hasselbaink is a former player and Dutch professional football manager who most recently managed League One team Burton Albion.
Hasselbaink returned to the Premier League with Chelsea in May 2000 for a club record £15 million cost, when he led the league in scoring for the second time, earning him a second Premier League Golden Boot. He also appeared in the 2002 FA Cup Final and led Chelsea to a career-high and club-record second-place finish in the Premier League in 2003-04.
He joined Middlesbrough on a free transfer in July 2004 and appeared in the 2006 UEFA Cup final. He joined Charlton Athletic in July 2006 after being released at the end of the previous season before joining Cardiff City in August 2007. He was a losing team member in the 2008 FA Cup Final before retiring after the season.
6. Gianfranco Zola
Gianfranco Zola OMRI OBE is an Italian football manager and former player who mostly played as a forward. Most recently, he served as Chelsea’s assistant manager. Zola is widely recognized as one of the greatest Italian forwards of all time and one of the greatest players ever to have represented Chelsea F.C. and the English Premier League.
He spent the first decade of his career in Italy, most notably with Napoli, where he won the Serie A title alongside Diego Maradona and Careca, and Parma, where he won the Italian Super Cup and the UEFA Cup. He then joined Chelsea, an English club, and was named Football Writers’ Player of the Year in 1996-97.
He won the UEFA Super Cup, two FA Cups, the League Cup, and the Community Shield during his stay at the club. He was named Chelsea’s greatest player ever in 2003. From his debut in 1991 until the 1994 World Cup, where Italy finished second, and Euro 1996, he was capped 35 times for Italy.
Zola began his club managing career at West Ham United of the Premier League in 2008, after a time with Italy’s under-21s, until being fired in 2010. He served as Watford’s manager from July 2012 until his resignation on December 16, 2013. In Serie A, he managed Cagliari from December 2014 until March 2015. On July 18 2018, he returned to Chelsea as Maurizio Sarri’s assistant ahead of the 2018-19 Premier League season.
5. Ruud Van Nistelrooy
Rutgerus Johannes Martinus van Nistelrooij (born July 1, 1976) is a Dutch professional football coach and former player. He is the current coach of PSV Eindhoven.
Van Nistelrooy, a former footballer, is widely regarded as one of the greatest attackers of all time. He has been the top scorer in three UEFA Champions League seasonsk and is the competition’s sixth-highest goalscorer with 56 goals. He has also led three separate European domestic leagues in scoring. The FIFA 100 ranking of the world’s greatest living players was published in 2004.
Van Nistelrooy began his career at Den Bosch, then moved on to Heerenveen before establishing himself at PSV Eindhoven, where he won two Eredivisie titles. Manchester United were interested in his goalscoring record at PSV; a deal was in place in the summer of 2000, but due to injury issues, his move was finalized a year later for a then-British record cost of £19 million.
The Premier League, FA Cup, Football League Cup, and FA Community Shield were all won by him during his spell at United, along with the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award twice.
Van Nistelrooy scored 150 goals in 219 appearances with United, becoming their all-time European record goalscorer at the time, but fell out of favor at the conclusion of his stint. In 2006, he was signed by Real Madrid.
Despite an injury that cut short his time at Real Madrid, he won La Liga twice and the Supercopa de Espaa before joining Hamburger SV during the January transfer window in 2010. In the summer of 2011, he returned to Spain with Málaga after spending one and a half seasons with Hamburg. On May 14, 2012, he announced his retirement from football.
Van Nistelrooy represented the Netherlands on 70 occasions, scoring 35 goals. He was a member of the squads for Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup.
4. Dennis Bergkamp
Dennis Nicolaas Maria Bergkamp is a former Dutch professional football coach. Bergkamp began his career as a wide midfielder before being promoted to primary striker and then to second striker, where he remained for the rest of his career. He is widely recognized as one of his generation’s greatest players and one of Ajax and Arsenal’s all-time greats.
Bergkamp, the son of an electrician, was born in Amsterdam and began his career as an amateur in the lower levels. Ajax scouted him when he was 11 years old and made his professional debut in 1986. A year later, his prolific form earned him an international call-up with the Netherlands, garnering the attention of various European teams.
Bergkamp joined Inter Milan in 1993 and had two disappointing seasons there. He revitalized his career after joining Arsenal in 1995, helping the team win three Premier League championships, four FA Cup medals, and reach the 2006 UEFA Champions League Final, his final appearance as a player. Despite expressing a wish to avoid coaching, Bergkamp worked as an assistant at Ajax from 2011 until 2017.
3. Alan Shearer
Alan Shearer, CBE DL is a retired English football player and manager who played as a striker. He is the Premier League’s record goalscorer with 260 goals, and is considered one of the finest strikers of his age and one of the greatest players in Premier League history.
He earned the PFA Player of the Year award in 1995 and was named Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year in 1994. The Ballon d’Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year honours went to him in 1996, and he finished third. Pelé named him to the FIFA 100 list of the world’s greatest living players in 2004. Shearer was one of the Premier League Hall of Fame’s inaugural two inductees in 2021.
2. Thierry Henry
Thierry Daniel Henry is a French professional football coach, commentator, and former player who currently serves as an assistant coach for the Belgium national football team. Henry was runner-up for the Ballon d’Or in 2003, FIFA World Player of the Year in 2004, and finished third for the Ballon d’Or in 2006. He is regarded as one of the finest strikers of all time and one of the best players to play in the Premier League.
He was named FWA Footballer of the Year three times in a row, PFA Players’ Player of the Year twice in a row, and PFA Team of the Year six times in a row. Additionally, he was named to the UEFA Team of the Year five times and the FIFA FIFPro World XI once.
Henry made his professional debut in 1994 with Monaco before joining defending Serie A winners Juventus. He signed with Premier League team Arsenal for £11 million in 1999, but, due to a lack of playing time and issues with the club’s hierarchy. Henry became a prolific striker and Arsenal’s all-time greatest scorer under long-time mentor and coach Arsène Wenger, scoring 228 goals in all competitions. He set a Premier League record for Golden Boot wins with the club, winning two FA Cups and two Premier League crowns, including one during an undefeated Invincible season.
Henry led Arsenal to the 2006 UEFA Champions League Final in his final two seasons as club captain. Henry joined Barcelona in 2007 and was a crucial member of the team that won La Liga, the Copa del Rey, and the UEFA Champions League in 2008-09. He joined the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer (MLS) in 2010, returned to Arsenal on loan for two months in 2012, and then retired in 2014.
Henry won the 1998 FIFA World Cup, the UEFA Euro 2000, and the FIFA Confederations Cup with France. He was named French Player of the Year five times, was named to the UEFA Euro 2000 Tournament Team, received both the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup Golden Ball and Golden Shoe, and was named to the 2006 FIFA World Cup All-Star Team.
He became his country’s record goalscorer in October 2007, a record he retained until December 2022. Henry retired from international football following the 2010 FIFA World Cup after making 123 appearances and scoring 51 goals.
Henry went into coaching after retirement. In February 2015, he began coaching Arsenal’s young squads alongside his duties as a Sky Sports commentator. Before taking over as head coach at Monaco in 2018, he was named an assistant coach at Belgium in 2016. In January 2019, he was released of his duties at Monaco and returned to MLS less than a year later to lead Montréal Impact. He guided the Canadiens to the playoffs in 2020 before leaving in 2021.
1. Eric Cantona
Former professional footballer Eric Daniel Pierre Cantona is also a French actor, director, and producer. Cantona, who is widely considered one of his period’s greatest players, is credited for turning Manchester United into a dominant force in English football in the 1990s. Cantona, a huge, physically powerful, hardworking, and tenacious player, blended technical ability and imagination with strength and goalscoring ability. He was mostly used as a deep-lying forward, although he could also occasionally play as a centre-forward, out-and-out striker, attacking midfielder, or central midfielder.
Cantona played for Auxerre, Martigues, Marseille, Bordeaux, Montpellier, Nîmes, and Leeds United before finishing his career with Manchester United, where he won four Premier League championships and two League and FA Cup Doubles in five years. At Manchester United, he donned the famed No. 7 shirt and was known for pulling up his collar, a signature style.
Fans of Manchester United have also given him the endearing moniker “King Eric.” Cantona won the league championship in seven of his last eight professional seasons. He played for the France national team and scored 20 goals in 45 games at the international level. He played at UEFA Euro 1992 and was named the nation’s captain in preparation for Euro 96 until a football suspension in January 1995 due to an incident.
Cantona was named the greatest player to have ever played for Manchester United by Inside United magazine in 2003. The English Football Hall of Fame inducted him as its first member in 2002. “The mysterious Frenchman was one of the most contentious Premier League players ever,” according to the museum. He was named Overseas Player of the Decade at the Premier League 10 Seasons Awards in 2003. The Premier League Hall of Fame will induct Cantona in 2021.
Pelé named him one of the world’s greatest living footballers on the FIFA 100 list in 2004. Charismatic and outspoken, Cantona’s career was marred by a poor disciplinary record, including a 1995 conviction for an assault on an abusive spectator in January 1995, for which he received a two-week prison sentence (reduced to community service on appeal) and an eight-month suspension from football.
In 1997, at 30, Cantona declared his retirement from football. He followed a career in film, appearing in Cate Blanchett’s 1998 film Elizabeth, the 2008 film French Film, and the 2009 film Looking for Eric. He made his theatrical debut in Face au Paradis, a drama directed by his wife, Rachida Brakni, in 2010. Cantona became interested in beach soccer, and as player-manager of the France national team, he won the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in 2005.
It’s been difficult to narrow down the Premier League’s greatest forward players of all time. Each of these players has contributed to the history and success of English football, but it is clear that some have had a more lasting impact than others. The talent and skill displayed by each one are undeniable, making them true legends of the game. While opinions may differ on who takes the top spot, there can be no denying the greats in this list represent an illustrious group that any aspiring footballer would do well to emulate.