Lionel Messi breaking Telmo Zarra’s record for most goals in the history of Spanish football is an excellent opportunity to check out the greatest scorers of all-time in the rest of Europe’s top leagues: England, France, Germany and Italy.
English Football: Jimmy Greaves (357 in 516 matches, 0.69)
While most of the people usually refer to the Premier League only when speaking of certain records, English Football existed before August 1992. All of Liverpool’s championships came before that day, and a lot of goals and great scorers earned their bread on less forgiving football pitches in sometimes less family-friendly atmospheres.
Of all these strikers, Jimmy Greaves was the best. An England international from 1959 to 1967, which means he’s part of the World Cup winning squad, Greaves played in England from 1957 to 1971, only for London clubs except for one season with AC Milan. He played for Chelsea and West Ham, but is mostly remembered for his days with Tottenham, winning two FA Cups and the Cup Winners’ Cup.
Of the top 10 scorers in English Football history, only Alan Shearer played in the Premier League era. Dixie Dean, a start in the 1920’s and 30’s, has the best ratio of goals in the top 10 with an 0.83, scoring 310 goals in 362 matches.
Spanish Football: Lionel Messi (253 in 289 Matches, 0.88)
It was bound to happen sooner or later, but Messi eventually got to Telmo Zarra (251 goals) and also surpassed the Bilbao legend. Zarra starred in the 40’s and 50’s, while Messi has been doing his thing since 2004. Of the fellas behind Messi on the list, Cristiano Ronaldo stands out. Not just because of the current rivalry, but because of his frightening pace. He has scored 197 goals in 176 matches, averaging 1.13 per match. Zarra is actually second on that account with 0.91 goals per match. Ferenc Puskas (156 goals in 180 matches) isn’t too far away with an 0.87.
Italian Football: Silvio Piola (274 in 537 Matches, 0.51)
Silvio Piola hasn’t played football since 1954, but the Lazio & Italy striker, a 1938 World Champion, is still the top scorer by quite a safe distance from the still active Francesco Totti. Piola played for Pro Vercelli, Torino, Juventus and Novarra as well during his career. Totti, active since 1992, has 237 goals in 569 matches, leaving him with quite a distance to cover. Averaging 0.44 goals per match and dropping, it’s not quite sure the 38 year old has what it takes to break the record. Gunner Nordahl scored 225 goals in 291 matches for Milan and Roma, and his 0.77 scoring ratio is the best among the top 30 scorers in Italy.
German Bundesliga: Gerd Muller (395 in 476 Matches, 0.83)
A superstar for Bayern and West Germany during the 1960’s and 70’s, which included winning the World Cup, Euro and the European Cup, Muller has a 30-goal edge over Uwe Seeler, who scored on a ratio of 0.73 per match. Among the top 10 on the all-time list, only Dieter Muller (1971-1990) and Klaus Allofs (1974-1990) actually played in the 1990’s, and barely making it in at that.
French Football: Delio Onnis (299 in 454 Matches, 0.66)
An Argentine born in Italy and known as ‘The Italian’, Onnis spent most of his career in France, scoring for Monaco but also Reims, Toulon and Tours. Just like Italy, all of the top scorers in Ligue 1 history haven’t been around for quite some time. The most recent among those in the top 10 is Bernard Lacombe, second on the list (255 goals) and he last played in 1987. The best scoring ratio belongs to Carlos Bianchi among the top 10, with 0.81 goals per match for Reims during the 70’s up until 1981.