The return of the Europa League gives us a reason to dive into the history of the competition, that is still mostly known as the UEFA Cup and before that was called the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, until UEFA took over, and check out the top scorers of all-time in the competition and how much more Radamel Falcao needs to score in order to conquer the first place.
As expected, not the biggest of names crowd this list – whoever is/was good enough is/was usually purchased by a bigger club that played in the European Cup/Champions League, or simply helped the club become more prominent and play in the most important of competitions.
10 – Martin Chivers, 22 Goals
And English forward during the 1960’s and 70’s, mostly known for his time with Tottenham between 1968 and 1976. Chivers also played for Servette (Switzerland) after his time with Spurs in the UEFA Cup, but all of his goals, 22 in 34 matches, came while playing for Spurs.
9 – Jupp Heynckes, 23 Goals.
Before becoming a manager for teams like Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, Jupp Heynckes played 15 seasons in the Bundesliga for Monchengladbach and Hannover, also getting 39 caps for the West Germany national side, being part of the side that won the World Cup in 1974 and the Euro in 1972. With Gladbach, the club he spent most of his career with, he won the 1974-1975 UEFA Cup, scoring a hat trick in the second leg of their final against Twente, winning 5-1.
8 – Mladen Petrić, 24 Goals
The Croatian international (45 caps, 13 goals) has spent most of his career playing in Switzerland and Germany, including with FC Basel and Hamburg in the UEFA Cup and the Europa League. Despite his impressive scoring record in Europe (24 goals in 63 matches), his most memorable moment came while playing for Basel in the UEFA Cup, having to fill in for a sent off goalkeeper and making a penalty kick save.
7 – Claudio Pizarro, 24 Goals
Pizarro has recently returned to Bayern Munich, a club unlikely to feature in the Europa League anytime soon, although Pizarro did play in the UEFA cup during his first tenure with Bayern. He played most of his matches for Bremen in the competitions, with three separate tenures at the club. His best season in the competition came in 2009-2010, scoring 9 goals in 10 matches for Bremen.
6 – Alessandro Altobelli, 25 Goals
Altobelli is mostly remembered for his part in the 1982 World Cup with Italy, but the striker who played for both Juventus and Inter scored 25 goals in 58 matches for both clubs in the UEFA Cup, although never winning the competition.
5 – Shota Arveladze, 27 Goals
Probably the greatest Georgian player of all-time and currently making his first years as a manager, Arveladze played with five different teams in the UEFA Cup – Dinamo Tbilisi, Trabzonspor, Ajax, Rangers and AZ, scoring 7 goals in the competition twice – once with Ajax (1997-1998) and once with AZ (2006-2007).
4 – Dieter Müller, 29 Goals
The prolific striker didn’t make much of an impact with the West Germany national side, playing only 12 times (scoring 9 goals). He played for FC Koln, Stuttgart and Bordeaux in the competition, but is mostly remembered for scoring six goals in a single Bundesliga match for Koln, but no TV-recordings of the match were made because of a strike.
3 – Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, 30 Goals
The Dutch striker has been one of the most successful scorers over the past decade in Europe, although usually for the second-class clubs in the continent, not really making a name for himself while playing for Real Madrid and AC Milan. He has 30 goals in 38 appearances in the competition, playing for Ajax, Heerenveen and Schalke, including a fantastic 14 goals in 12 matches for the side in the 2011-2012 campaign.
2 – Radamel Falcao, 30 Goals
Falcao seems to have been born to score and win Europa League titles, so far winning two of them with Atletico Madrid and Porto, scoring 30 goals in 31 matches while destroying the competition. He has scored in both finals he has played in – first in 2011, as Porto beat Braga in the final 1-0, and a season later, scoring twice for Atletico Madrid in their 3-0 win over Atletico Bilbao.
1 – Henrik Larsson, 40 Goals
The greatest player in the history of Celtic (according to some polls), Henrik Larrson did play for Helsingborg and Feyenoord as well in the UEFA Cup, before and after his time with Celtic, but he is mostly remembered for the seven years in Scotland, winning four league titles before moving on to less dominant years in Barcelona. Larsson scored twice in the UEFA Cup final of 2003, when Celtic lost 3-2 to Porto in extra time.