John Aldridge picks his top ten strikers from the Premier League era - with a few notable omissions
It is a debate we have all had over a pint and in truth there is no definitive answer to the question - who is the greatest Premier League striker of them all?
Devotion towards your own club will inevitably play a part in any verdict you might come when asked this debate kicks-off and there is a good chance the fella sitting next to you will disagree with your final verdict.
I’m sure you will disagree with the order of some of the players in my final list and the names of Michael Owen and Andy Cole are missing despite their fine scoring records, so here are the reasons behind my choices.
1. Alan Shearer (Southampton, Blackburn, Newcastle)
Shearer was a Premier League title winner with Blackburn in 1995 and he could have added plenty more medals to his collection if he had accepted an offer to sign for Manchester United a year later.
Instead, he wanted to live out his dream of playing for his local club Newcastle and while that meant he finished his career without the trophies his talents may have merited, he will have no regrets.
If I was in his position and had a chance to sign for my local club, I would have taken the same route as him and the fact that he finished his career as Newcastle’s record goal scorer is an achievement for Shearer to be proud of.
2. Thierry Henry (Arsenal)
Okay, I admit I’m one of those who will never forgive Henry for his horrible handball that cost Ireland a place in the 2010 World Cup finals, but there is no denying the guy was a class apart from most of the Premier League when he was at the peak of his powers with Arsenal.
His 175 Premier League goals helped to make him the Gunners all-time top scorer and he deserves to be in the mix when the decision is made on who the greatest striker of them all should be.
3. Robbie Fowler (Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester City)
Robbie sits sixth on the Premier League record goal scorer list with 163 goals, yet I believe he would have been close to Shearer’s record of 260 if he had stayed fit in the second half of his career.
Fowler was a predator in front of goal and just like me, he lived out his dream of playing for his local club and having the thrill of hearing The Kop call out your name. There is nothing like it.
So while Luis Suarez was the best player I have seen in the Premier League during his time with Liverpool and Michael Owen was a sensational striker for my old club in his formative years, my old pal Robbie gets my nod as the finest Reds striker of this era.
4. Wayne Rooney (Everton, Manchester United)
Rooney has become something of a divisive figure at the back end of his career, yet you look at his achievement of becoming United and England’s record goal scorer and you have to say that is something very special.
He has never been an out-and-out striker in my eyes. I always see Rooney as the link man behind the lead forward and yet he has still managed to score goals at a very good rate throughout his career and he is still doing it now for Everton, even if his best days are behind him.
Ruud van Nistelrooy and Andy Cole were more clinical lead strikers for United, but Rooney has to get the nod as their best forward from the last quarter of a century purely on his volume of goals.
5. Didier Drogba (Chelsea)
Here is an example of a striker who was more important to his team than that statistics reveal.
While Drogba is down in 25th place - behind Peter Crouch - in the Premier League top scorers list, his record of hitting important goals in big Cup Finals and vital league games for Chelsea means he has to be regarded as one of the best forwards of this era.
I hated him when he was at Chelsea because he would also give Liverpool’s defence a tough time and he was a bit of a cheat at times, but you have to respect the qualities he brought to the table.
6. Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
This guy has a sensational goal-to-game ratio and after scoring the most famous goal of the Premier League era to win the title for City in 2012, he cemented his legendary status with the club as he became their all-time record goal scorer earlier this month.
Aguero is more of a poacher than his compatriot Diego Maradona was, but I see some similarities between the two and compliments don’t come much bigger than that.
This fella is a goal machine and for all the money City have spent trying to become a big club in the last few years, he is the best of their signings by a distance.
7. Luis Suarez (Liverpool)
I didn’t see a better player in the Premier League than Suarez, it’s a simple as that.
The 2013/14 season when he so nearly led Liverpool to the title saw him serve up a series of world class performances and his brilliance has been reaffirmed since he went to Barcelona and didn’t look out of place alongside Lionel Messi.
He was not at Liverpool for long enough to get into the top five Premier League strikers, but his brilliance left a lasting mark on the English game.
8. Harry Kane (Tottenham)
Like Aguero, this prolific striker has fantastic goal-to-game statistics and if he stays in England for the rest of his career - which is by no means certain with Real Madrid interested - he could get close to Shearer’s record of 260 Premier League goals by the end of his career.
At the age of 24, Kane is firmly established as one of the best strikers in Europe and I love watching him doing his work, unless he is ripping Liverpool apart like he did at Wembley last month!
He appears to be a humble guy, a good role model for kids and a bloody good striker, so he is the complete package.
9. Jermain Defoe (West Ham, Tottenham, Portsmouth, Sunderland, Bournemouth)
This little striker has been firing goals in the Premier League since 2001 and the fact that he is just behind Fowler in the all-time scoring list highlights the quality of his performances.
You wonder whether Defoe would be even high up in the statistics if he had been given a chance to play for a side that was challenging for the title, but he is still a threat for Bournemouth now at the age of 35.
10. Robbie Keane (Leeds, Tottenham, Liverpool, West Ham, Aston Villa)
Robbie’s career statistics will stand the test of time and even if some people in Ireland seemed to love knocking him down, his scoring record for club and country was top class.
When you look at the Premier League scoring list and see that he is ahead of Drogba, Dwight Yorke and Ian Wright - three top quality goal scorers - you appreciate that we had a player to be proud of in Keane.
The reason why I chose Kane over Robbie as the best Spurs striker of the Premier League era is because their currently No.10 has huge potential to be one of the true greats, but that should not dilute the achievements of a player who set a goal scoring record with Ireland that may never be broken.
PREMIER LEAGUE ALL-TIME TOP SCORERS
1. Alan Shearer (260)
2. Wayne Rooney (202)
3. Andy Cole (187)
4. Frank Lampard (177)
5. Thierry Henry (175)
6. Robbie Fowler (163)
7. Jermain Defoe (159)
8. Michael Owen (150)
9. Les Ferdinand (149)
10. Teddy Sheringham (146)
FACT: Wayne Rooney has scored just 17 goals in his last 64 Premier League appearances with Manchester United and Everton.
DID YOU KNOW: Didier Drogba scored nine goals in major Cup Finals during his decorated Chelsea career.
FACT: Niall Quinn is the second highest Irish Premier League goal scorer behind Robbie Keane (59 goals).