Forgotten Heroes and Icons of Modern Football
But no matter whether young or old, current scorer or goal scorer from past times, their stories are interesting and worth telling. Discriminated, disadvantaged, revered or loved. This is the Vita of the 27 top goal scorers of recent football history. Some life stories ended more than tragic, some players died much too early. Others became heroes and remained in the collective football memory of the masses. We tell the stories one after the other in the form of short videos and in the form of somewhat longer texts and historical pictures. We start at a 27th place and work our way up to the top 3. In the end, we solve the riddle of the best scorer in football history. His goal quotient is unmatched and so is his performance.
Because there are different ways of counting, we show the table with the players from the Elite Club of +500 after the ranking. And we publish the links to the statistics so that those who are interested in the topic can have a look at the different rankings with different counting methods of the two statistical guardians of international football.
Because depending on which matches you count and which you don’t, different results come out and then other players are at the top. For instance, the discriminated Brazilian or Polish German in the turmoil of the Second World War. And since there are also active players in the ranking, the table positions of these players do not quite match the current values. Our ranking is based on the figures from December 31, 2018.
Ferenc Bene (* December 17, 1944, in Balatonújlak; † February 27, 2006, in Budapest) was a Hungarian national football player. He had his best time in the late 60s of the 20th century.
He began his career at the age of 17 at Újpest Dózsa in Budapest. He played for the club for 17 years. Between 1961 and 1978 he scored 303 goals in 417 league matches for the club. During this time he won the Hungarian Championship in 8 matches with the club – from 1969 to 1974/75 7 times in a row and 3 times with the Hungarian Cup in 1969, 1970, 1974/75.
In the 1968/69 season, he and Újpest made it to the semi-finals of the fair trophy (the forerunner of the UEFA CUps, the forerunner of the Euro-League) after winning against Aris Saloniki, Legia Warsaw, Leeds United and Göztepe Izmir in the semi-finals against Újpest, who lost 2-3 to Newcastle United. Teammates Antal Dunai (10 goals) and Bene (9 goals) were the top scorers in the trophy.
Újpest won all championships from 1969 to 1975, scored exactly 500 goals in the seven championships and reached the quarter-finals of the European Cup of Champions almost every year. In the 1973/74 season, the team even reached the semi-finals, where the later winner Bayern Munich stopped the triumph of the heirs of Nandor Hidegkuti and Ferenc Puskás. Bene became the national top scorer in 1962/63 (23), 1971/72 (29), 1972/73 (23) and 1974/75 with 20 goals. The attack formation Fazekas – Göröcs – Bene – Dunai II – Zámbó was famous and fascinated the fans beyond Hungary.
James Peter “Jimmy” Greaves (* February 20, 1940, in East Ham) is one of the most famous English footballers of the late 50s and 60s of the 20th century.
Greaves almost always scored in his first game. So he scored in his first game in 1957 for Chelsea FC. He finished the years 1959 and 1961 as the best scorer in the Premier League. His 41 goals in the 1960/61 season are still Chelsea club record. Greaves was the youngest player of all time in 1960, scoring 100 goals at the age of 20 and 290 days. He joined AC Milan in 1961 and scored 9 goals in 12 games. Difficulties settling in outside the pitch led to a quick end in Milan, whereupon Bill Nicholson signed him up for Tottenham Hotspur for £99,999. Greaves was to be relieved of the pressure of the first “100,000 pound player”, so it remained 1 pound under the then magical mark.
Greaves played for the Spurs between 1961 and 1970 and scored 266 goals in 379 games (including 220 in the first division) of the club record. He finished the seasons 1963, 1964, 1965 and 1969 as the best scorer of the league. Top scorer of the league in 6 seasons is still today English record. Greaves won the FA Cup with the Spurs in 1962. He also won the 1963 European Cup Winners’ Cup, scored two goals in a 5-1 win over Atlético Madrid and became the first British club to win a European title for Spurs. In the year 1970 Greaves moved to West Ham United. Again he scored in the first game, as for every other team he made his debut with (including the national team and the U-23 junior team), scoring 2 goals against Manchester City on March 21, 1970.
Two months later he took sixth place in the London-to-Mexico World Cup Rally with his co-driver Tony Fall. He retired from football at the age of 31 after 516 league matches and 357 goals. Greaves made a comeback at the age of 38 when he scored 25 goals in the Southern League for FC Barnet as a midfielder and was voted player of the season. Greaves first played for the English national football team in 1959 and subsequently scored a total of 57 international matches in which he scored 44 goals. He scored only 5 goals less than Bobby Charlton, his goal quota was significantly higher than that of Charlton. He is England’s fourth-best scorer behind Wayne Rooney, Charlton, and Gary Lineker. On November 23, 1960, he scored England’s 1000th international goal in the second minute of a 5-1 draw with Wales. Greaves was also a regular player during the 1966 World Cup before he injured his leg against France in the match and had to be replaced for the next match. Geoff Hurst, Greaves’ substitute, scored the decisive goal in the quarter-finals against Argentina and kept his place until the final. There he scored 3 goals and became an English folk hero together with Wembley goal.
As a footballer, he was one of Vasco da Gama’s outstanding players and the club’s most successful scorer.
He scored a total of 744 goals in 1022 matches of which 698 were for Vasco. Since 1995 he has had a seat in the parliament of the state of Rio de Janeiro. In 2008 he was elected president of Vasco da Gama.
His nickname “Dinamite” came in November 1971, when the then 17-year-old striker scored a fabulous goal in a match at the Maracanã Stadium. In the official count that we make the basis of the ranking, he scored 512 goals while unofficially there are significantly more goals.
Gunnar Nordahl (* October 19, 1921, in Hörnefors; † September 15, 1995, in Alghero, Sardinia) was a Swedish footballer and later a successful coach.
His career record is 513 goals. Nordahl, with 225 goals, also ranks third on the eternal Serie A scoring list and is the record scorer for AC Milan.
With this club, he won the championship 2 times in the 1950s and became top scorer 5 times in the highest Italian league.
In 1948 he won Olympic gold with the Swedish national team when gold at the Olympic Games in football counted even more than today.
Hans Krankl also belongs to the elite club of the +500s applying the ranking of the Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation.
Hans Krankl played 69 international matches for Austria from 1973 to 1985 and scored 34 goals. His goal record could only be broken by Toni Polster. He took part with Austria in the World Cup finals in 1978 and 1982. At the World Cup in Argentina, he was instrumental in Austria’s legendary 3-2 victory over Germany with 2 goals. He initially ended his team career after the World Cup in 1982 and later returned twice (1983 and 1985). In club football, Hans Krankl celebrated numerous international successes. He started his career at KSV Tram in Vienna. In 1970, he spent half a season at SK Rapid in Vienna, where he hardly ever played. He returned to Rapid in 1972 after moving to Vienna AC, where he scored 27 goals in 26 games to attract attention as a goal scorer.
With the SK Rapid, he won the Austrian Cup in 1976 and became the league top scorer in 3 competitions. In 1978, he won the Golden Boot as the best goal scorer in Europe with 41 goals in the season. He was signed to FC Barcelona after the 1978 World Cup. In his first season for the Catalans, Krankl was Spanish top scorer with 29 championship goals. In the same season, he also won the European Cup Winners’ Cup with Barça in the final against Fortuna Düsseldorf.
He scored 1 goal in the 4:3 victory. The Barca fans called him “Goleador”. Krankl played for Barcelona until 1981 and returned to Rapid in Vienna after a fierce dispute with coach Joaquim Rifé. In the following years he was able to celebrate most of his national successes with Rapid: 1982 and 1983 with Rapid the Austrian Championship, 1983 to 1985 cup winners three times in a row and 1985 with the green-whites sensational entry into the final of the European Cup Winners Cup, in which the Viennese lost despite a goal by Krankl to FC Everton with 1:3. Krankl last played for the Vienna Sports Club for two more years and for a short time for Kremser SC in 1988 and 1988 before ending his football career at SV Austria Salzburg in the 1988/1989 season.