The Top 10 England goalscorers

With England preparing to take on San Marino as they continue their road to Brazil 2014, Roy Hodgson’s strikers will be licking their lips at the prospect of adding to their tallies against according to the Fifa World Rankings, the worst team in the world.

So with the likes of Wayne Rooney, Jermain Defoe and Danny Welbeck sure to have ample goalscoring opportunities, we look back at the Top 10 England scorers.

10.) Steve Bloomer – 28 goals

Scorer of 28 goals in 23 appearances between 1895 and 1907, goals which made England winners of the British Home Nations Championship eight times. At club level, is revered at Derby County for two goal-laden spells that saw him net 332 times for the club, a remarkable figure that remains standing to this day.

9.) Wayne Rooney – 29 goals

The Manchester United forward is odds on to rise in this list after Friday’s clash with San Marino but many will still be surprised to see Rooney so high up in this list. Public perception of Rooney in an England shirt is either the half-fit striker who got himself sent off in the 2006 World Cup quarter finals, or the anaemic performances in South Africa 2010 or the listless performances in the recent Euro 2012. Indeed, since he exploded onto the scene at Euro 2004, Rooney has only scored one more goal in a major tournament.

However, when Rooney has found form for England the goals have come in quick succession, particularly in a spell under Fabio Capello in 2008-09. With 76 caps already under his belt at the age of only 26, Rooney could be the man to break not only Bobby Charlton’s goalscoring record, but Peter Shilton’s appearance record.

8.) Vivian Woodward – 29 goals

Played in a similar era to Bloomer and his goals not only contributed to Home Nations Championship triumphs but also, victories in the 1908 and 1912 Olympic Games, in which the Tottenham and Chelsea striker captained the Great Britain side. The outbreak of World War One in 1914 ended Woodward’s professional career and after being wounded in battle, had to give up the game altogether.

7.) Alan Shearer – 30 goals

The classic English goalscorer from the 90s, Alan Shearer was for a period, after Romario and before Ronaldo, the most feared striker on the planet. His goalscoring exploits with club sides Blackburn and Newcastle are legendary, where he spectacularly brought the Premier League title to Ewood Park before going onto become Newcastle’s record goalscorer. Regularly delivered at major tournaments for England, top-scoring on home soil at Euro 96 where he almost led England to the final before captaining at both France 98 and Euro 2000, scoring twice in each. Arguably retired from international football far too early.

6.) Nat Lofthouse – 30 goals

One of the finest one-club men in British football history, Lofthouse only passed away as recently as January 2011, leaving behind a quite wonderful strike rate, not just for Bolton Wanderers who he led to an FA Cup triumph in 1958, but also for England where he netted 30 from just 33 appearances.

5.) Tom Finney – 30 goals

Another one club man, this time with Preston North End and had a more conventional strike rate for his country, with his 30 goals coming from 76 appearances. Finney currently lives on and those old enough to have seen him in his prime for North End continue to tell stories of the little man’s striking prowess.

4.) Michael Owen – 40 goals

At one point, Owen looked absolutely certain to become England’s record goalscorer and indeed extend the record to a near unassailable level such was his prowess. After taking the world by storm at France 98 when he ran away from Argentina in such breathtaking fashion, Owen established himself as a regular starter and scorer for Glenn Hoddle, Kevin Keegan and most notably, Sven Goran-Eriksson, where the ex-Liverpool man famously hit a hat-trick in England’s 5-1 win over Germany in Munich.

However, a cruciate ligament injury suffered in the 2006 World Cup effectively ended Owen’s England career and once Fabio Capello arrived to take charge in 2008, Owen’s international career was suddenly over. A move to Manchester United failed to reignite his England career and in truth, the chance for him to break Bobby Charlton’s record, one that seemed such an open goal just a few years ago, now appears to have been spurned.

3.) Jimmy Greaves – 44 goals

Simply put, one of the greatest strikers in English football history. Greaves enjoyed goal-laden spells at both Chelsea and Tottenham, with a short but prolific spell in Italy with AC Milan sandwiched in-between. Indeed, the now 72-year-old is still adored at White Hart Lane, where he remains Spurs’ record goalscorer.

His strike rate at international level was similarly superb, with 44 goals coming from 57 appearances but will always be remembered as the forgotten man of England’s World Cup triumph in 1996. Greaves had began the tournament as Alf Ramsey’s first-choice striker but after suffering a shin injury, was replaced by eventual hat-trick scorer in the final Geoff Hurst, even though Greaves had by then returned to fitness. The World Cup final omission remains arguably the most disappointing moment of Greaves’ career.

2.) Gary Lineker – 48 goals

Yet another who looked destined to become England’s record goalscorer and winning the Golden Boot by scoring six times in the 1986 World Cup, Lineker cemented himself as one of the best marksmen in Europe, a tag that earned him a move to Barcelona.

Thus, by the time of Lineker’s last tournament as an England player at Euro 1992 had come around, the stage was set for him to overtake Charlton’s record. However, he remarkably botched a pre-tournament friendly against Brazil that would have drawn him level with the record after a Panenka-styled chip failed to deceive the keeper before going goalless in England’s three group games of a miserable campaign.

The die was cast when manager Graham Taylor substituted Lineker in the final match vs Sweden as he searched for a winner that would take England through to the next round. That winner never came and Lineker retired after the tournament agonisingly one goal short.

1.) Sir Bobby Charlton – 49 goals

Considered not just one of England’s greatest ever players but one of the world’s best ever. A man who led his country to World Cup victory on home soil in 1966, the same  year he collected the European Footballer of the Year award and a full eight years after Charlton survived the tragedy of the Munich Air disaster when the majority of his Manchester United team mates perished in a plane crash. A man who remains United’s highest ever goalscorer with 249 strikes, as well as his country’s with 49 from 106 appearances.

There simply are not enough words to do justice to Sir Bobby Charlton and it is fitting that the honour of being England’s record goalscorer has remained his to this day.

Adam Mazrani