1st July – Ruud Van Nistelrooy

Ruud Van Nistelrooy is one of the best strikers to ever grace the Premier League and should go down as one of Manchester United’s best goalscorers.

Despite his brilliance he was one of those players that crossed Sir Alex Ferguson and found out that nobody is bigger than the club. His departure from Old Trafford was surprising and meant he couldn’t join the 100 Premier League goals club.

The Dutchman started his career at Den Bosch and after netting 12 goals in the 1996-97 campaign he earned a move to Heerenveen. He only stayed for one season, grabbing 13 goals, before a big move to PSV.

He started brilliantly with 31 goals in 34 matches and capped the year of by winning the Dutch Player of the Year and the Eredivisie title. The following season they retained the title with Van Nistelrooy scoring 29 goals. In the summer of 2000 it looked as though the striker was about to leave but an injury meant he was out of action for a year.

RVN PSV

Manchester United kept the faith and signed him once he had recovered and scored against Liverpool in the Charity Shield and twice on his Premier League debut against Fulham. At the end of the campaign he had 23 league goals and 10 in the Champions League as well as scoring in eight consecutive games. In the next season he went even better getting 14 in Europe and 25 in the league, which earned him the Golden Boot.

Goals kept flowing for the striker and he even overtook Denis Law’s European goal record however Van Nistelrooy was left on the bench for the 2006 League Cup final against Wigan Athletic. From then till the end of the season he was regularly left on the bench and an argument with Cristiano Ronaldo meant it was time to move on.

RVN MU

After 150 goals in 219 appearances, Real Madrid signed the striker. He didn’t take long to settle, scoring a hatrick against Levante and a few weeks later all four in a victory over Osasuna. As the club clinched the title, Van Nistelrooy equalled the longest consecutive scoring streak in La Liga history. During the following campaign he picked up an injury and never got his place back in the team. He managed 64 goals in 96 games before moving on to German side Hamburg.

RVN RM

After just half a season and seven goals in 18 games he was remarkably linked with a move back to Madrid however his new club rejected it. In his only full season he scored seven times in 25 league games. His final move was to Malaga but after just one season he announced his retirement from the game with 347 career goals.

The final word can go to PSV spokesman Pedro Salazar-Hewitt. “He can play in any competition and score goals. He’s a great player and a very nice guy. He has the mentality and the ambition to become one of the biggest players in the world.”

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11th June – Vagner Love

Vagner Love at one point was one of the most highly rated strikers in Europe and was expected to become one of Brazil’s main goalscorers.

Love started his career at Brazilian side Palmeiras, where he helped them return to the top flight. He stayed for two seasons but scored 27 times in 42 league games and this led to him being by bought by Russian side CSKA Moscow. There were many rumours that he did not settle and was looking to leave, however he remained committed to his team and became a club hero by scoring in the 2005 UEFA Cup final which CSKA would go on to win against Sporting Lisbon. It was in this competition that he made a lot of headlines, by finishing as the competitions top scorer in the 2008-09 campaign.

On the 29th August 2009 it looked as though his time in Russia had came to an end as he returned to Palmeiras on loan. He, again showed he knew where the back of the net was by scoring five goals in 12 games. Due to the player stating concerns over his safety he cut the loan spell short and signed for his childhood team Flamengo.

At Flamengo, the striker was a massive success and formed a fantastic partnership with the former Inter Milan player Adriano, scoring 23 goals in 26 games. However, they could not convince Love to stay permanently.

Love Flamgo

This led to the player returning to CSKA where he helped the club win the Russian Premier League in 2013 and would also manage to hit over 100 goals during his two spells with the team. Once again he did leave and signed for Shandong Luneng and he would continue his goalscoring form with 28 goals in 43 games in his two seasons in China.

LOve CSKA

He has since became a little bit of a traveller, but someone that can guarantee goals. After his contract was rescinded in China, he joined Corinthians and finished as the top scorer as they would go on to win the Serie A title. But would only stay for almost exactly a year, joining French side Monaco and would be a fairly decent player for the club. He will be mostly remembered for scoring a goal in a victory over PSG.

Love Alanyaspor

After just half a season, Love signed for Turkish side Alanyaspor and was initially seen as a flop as he failed to score in his first seven games but then scored 23 times in just 20 games meaning he won the Golden Boot. He followed this up with an incredible start to the next season with 11 goals in 16 games and this led to Besiktas signing the striker midway through the season.

The final word can go to Monaco President, Vadim Vasilyev. “Vagner Love is a striker who has shown all his value in his career. We have had problems scoring goals and we are convinced Vagner Love can provide us with all his quality in that department.”

11th March – Didier Drogba

Chelsea have been regulars in the knockout stages of the Champions League for a long time and owe a lot of this to striker Didier Drogba and he will forever go down as one of their greatest ever players.

Hitting over 100 Premier League goals and being the club’s fourth highest goalscorer of all time just shows his worth but now at the age of 37 he is still causing problems and will have a say on how Chelsea do. With the League Cup already in the bag, they are still looking for Premier League and European glory.

Drogba began his career in France with Le Mans but he didn’t get off to a great start, struggling with injuries. But in 1999 he was part of the first team and impressed with seven goals, however in the following season the injuries returned and he lost his place in the team. But in his final season he scored five times in 21 games and was signed by Ligue 1 side Guingamp halfway through the campaign. He made a vital contribution in keeping the team in the top division and would then lead the club to their highest ever finish by hitting 17 goals in 34 games.

Drogba Guingamp

After just one full season he moved again joining Marseille. This would be a great move as he scored a lot of goals, with 19 in the league and 11 in Europe. But this would be his only season at the club as he joined Chelsea for £24 million. In his first season he did well, scoring 16 with his most important coming in the final of the League Cup but also adding 10 in the league as the club won the title. Chelsea would go on to retain the title with Drogba again scoring 16 in all competitions.

Drogba Marseille

In the 2006-07 season he scored 33 goals, including two in the League Cup final against Arsenal and also the winner in the FA Cup final against Manchester United. The League Cup became his favourite competition as he would go on to score in his third final, unfortunately they would lose this time to Tottenham Hotspur. Another final that year did not go so well for Drogba as he was sent off in the final of the Champions League against Manchester United who would go on to win on penalties.

The following season didn’t start great for him as he had to wait until late December for his first Premier League goal. Under Scolari he struggled for game time but when Guus Hiddink took charge he returned to great goalscoring form and would once again score in the FA Cup final, helping his side to a 2-1 win. He started the 2009-10 season with 14 goals in the first 16 games. Despite going to the Africa Cup of Nations he still finished with 29 goals in just 32 games and Chelsea would go on to win the Premier League again and then a week later he would score in his sixth final.

2010-11 started well for Chelsea and Drogba but it didn’t last and was quite a disappointing campaign. But the next season was arguably his favourite for the club as he scored his 100th Premier League goal, moved up to fourth in the all time goalscoring list, scoring in yet another FA Cup final and winning the Champions League after scoring the 88th minute equaliser and the winning penalty.

Drogba Chelsea

On the 19th June 2012 Drogba joined Shanghai Shenhua but he would only last 11 games at the club, scoring eight times before joining Turkish side Galatasaray. He would go on to score five minutes into his debut and would help them to the title with five goals in 13 games. He would only spend one full season at the club and after 20 goals in 53 games he would make the return to Chelsea.

The final word can go to Jose Mourinho after his return. “It looks like he never left. He was an ever present even when he wasn’t here. Chelsea belonged to him even in the last two years when he was away. I think we need him. We need him as a player for our squad to be the way I like. So, as a player and person, Didier is someone we need to be strong.”

23rd September – Paolo Rossi

Paolo Rossi is celebrating his 58th birthday today and he is a legend in his home country of Italy because he led them to the World Cup title in 1982.

In the tournament he scored six goals which meant he won the Golden Boot and was then also awarded the Golden Ball for being the player of the tournament becoming only the third player after Garrincha in 1962 and Mario Kempes in 1978 to pick up all three awards at a World Cup. Although his reputation was slightly tarnished after a betting scandal in 1980 he claimed he was innocent and came back from a two year ban just in time to become the country’s hero.
Rossi Italy
Rossi started his career at Juventus but had a difficult time there and after three operations on his knee he was sent out on loan to gain experience at Como. He was shifted out to the right wing by Como and could not show his true potential. But in 1976 he moved to Vicenza where his career really started and he began to play as the centre forward and immediately showed his eye for goal.

In his first year at the club he won the Serie B Golden Boot after his 21 goals in 36 games. These goals also helped the club gain promotion to the top flight, where Rossi just seemed to get better and better, hitting 24 goals in just 30 games and becoming the first player to ever finish as the top scorer in Serie A and Serie B in consecutive seasons. After his impressive spell at Vicenza he was called up to the Italy squad for the 1978 World Cup and gained international fame as one of the world’s best strikers after scoring three goals and assisting another four in the tournament.

Despite averaging better than a goal in every game in the following campaign, he could not stop Vicenza getting relegated and was loaned out to Perugia for the 1978-79 season. He scored 13 times in his first year with the club but then the betting scandal stopped him playing more games for them.
Rossi Vicenza
After he completed his ban he rejoined Juventus in the 1980-81 season but could only play three times, scoring one goal but this earned him his call up to the Italy squad for the 1982 World Cup which was heavily criticised before the tournament. The criticism was justified as he looked a shadow of his former self in the three group games, however Enzo Bearzot stood by his striker. He repaid this faith by scoring a hatrick in the quarter final against Brazil in a 3-2 win and then followed this up with two against Poland in the semis. Then in the final against Germany he scored the first of Italy’s three goals to help them lift the trophy.

After the World Cup he could not keep up his phenomenal goal scoring record for Juventus but he did still have a record that many strikers would be proud of – 24 league goals in 83 games. These goals were good enough to win two Serie A titles, the Italian Cup, the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, UEFA Super Cup and the European Cup in his four years at the club.
Rossi Juventus
In 1985 Rossi joined AC Milan and although he only scored two goals he went down as a legend as these goals came in a derby victory over Inter. He only spent one season at the club and then went on to play for Verona, and scored the 100th league goal of his career at the club and finally retiring with a record of 103 goals in 251 games, as well as 20 in 48 games for the national team.

The final word can go to the Italy manager Enzo Bearzot speaking after the 1982 World Cup. “I knew that if Rossi wasn’t in Spain, I wouldn’t have had an opportunist inside the penalty box. In that area, he was really good, really fast, always ready to fool defenders with his feints.”