18 of the most unlikely individual goalscoring seasons ever

18. Paul Warhurst (18, 1992/93)

  • Previous best: 1 (Oldham, 1989/90 and 1990/91)
  • Best since: 3 (Crystal Palace, 1997/98)

Journeyman Warhurst turned out for 16 clubs throughout his career, and played pretty much everywhere on the pitch. In 1992/93, Sheffield Wednesday were suffering an injury crisis up front, and Warhurst was deployed to plug the gap.

The decision proved a masterstroke: the defender-turned-frontman grabbed 18 goals in all competitions as Wednesday reached the FA Cup and League Cup finals, and was later called up for England as a striker (but injury meant he never won a cap). A year later he was signed by Blackburn, where he picked up a Premier League winner's medal, before notable stints with Crystal Palace and Bolton were followed by a gradual descent down the English pyramid. 

17. Steve Bruce (19, 1990/91)

  • Previous best:10 (Norwich, 1985/86) 
  • Best since: 7 (Man United, 1993/94)

Centre-back Bruce proved a reliable goal source throughout his career thanks to his set-piece bravery and decisiveness from spot-kicks, but never more so than in the 1990/91 campaign when he bagged an astonishing 19 goals in all competitions for Manchester United. With 13 of those coming in the First Division, Bruce ended up finishing the season as United's joint-leading goal-getter in the league that year.

16. Rogerio Ceni (21, 2005)

  • Previous best: 8 (Sao Paulo, 2000)
  • Best since: 16 (Sao Paulo, 2006)

Frustrated goalkeeper Ceni is the world's greatest-ever goalscoring netminder. He notched 131 times in a majestic 25-year career with Sao Paulo, which helped him to 16 Brazil caps from 1997 to 2006 (though he never actually scored for the Seleção).

Ceni enjoyed his best goalscoring season in 2005, when he netted an astonishing 21 goals for Sao Paulo. The set-piece specialist spent his entire career with the Tricolor and racked up over 1,200 appearances, meaning he holds two Guinness world records: one for the most games as captain of the same club, and another for the most games with one team. 

15. Roque Santa Cruz (20, 2007/08)

  • Previous best: 12 (Olimpia Asuncion, 1999)
  • Best since: 12 (Malaga, 2012/13)

Santa Cruz was tipped for greatness when he arrived at Bayern Munich from his native Paraguay in 1999 – but suffice to say, it only came in one season. After eight stop-start seasons in Bavaria, Santa Cruz joined Blackburn for £3.5m and immediately impressed, netting 19 league goals for Rovers in his debut season.

Despite only notching three in his second, Manchester City boss Mark Hughes willingly chucked £17.5m at the player he'd signed for Rovers in 2007 – but the results were predictably dooming. Santa Cruz featured sporadically and scored only four times all season, before being loaned back to Blackburn (nine games, no goals), Betis (35 games, seven goals) and Malaga (the anomaly, with whom he came agonisingly close to the Champions League semi-finals). 

Next: Where did it all go wrong?

14. James Tavernier (15, 2015/16)

  • Previous best: 5 (Rotherham, 2013/14)
  • Best since: N/a

Former Newcastle right-back Tavernier joined Mark Warburton's new-look Rangers with a bang in 2015 when he netted 15 goals in the Gers' promotion season back to Scotland's top flight. A set-piece specialist, Tavernier buried a stunning free-kick on his debut in a 6-2 win against Hibernian and thumped in three more throughout the course of the season. His reward? A summer link with Trabzonspor... 

13. Aden Flint (15, 2014/15)

  • Previous best: 4 (Swindon, 2011/12 and 2012/13) 
  • Best since: 6 (Bristol City, 2015/16)

In Bristol City's League One title-winning campaign of 2014/15, the Robins bagged 99 goals in league action with five of their players reaching double figures. One of those was centre-back Flint, who managed a barely believable 15 goals – and none of them came from penalties. The 6ft 7in centre-back proved to be an indomitable threat from set-pieces, all while helping his defence concede the fewest goals of any team in the league.

Skip to 2:30 for a proper mickey-take

12. Adel Taarabt (19, 2010/11)

  • Previous best: 7 (QPR, 2009/10)
  • Best since: 5 (QPR, 2012/13)

A flamboyant playmaker with bags of potential, Taarabt's 2010/11 season at QPR was meant to be the catalyst for his top-level career. The Moroccan plundered 19 goals in an irresistible title-winning season with the R's... but then it all went belly-up.

QPR were hopeless in the Premier League, and fingers were pointed at Taarabt for his part in it – manager Harry Redknapp accused him of being unfit ("He played in a reserve game the other day and I could have run about more than he did"), and the writing was on the wall. Fulham and Milan took him on loan spells, before Benfica inexplicably handed him a five-year contract in 2015. He's never appeared for their first team. 

11. Ian Harte (18, 2009/10)

  • Previous best: 11 (Leeds, 2000/01) 
  • Best since: 11 (Reading, 2010/11)

Late-'90s Premier League aficianados will fondly remember Harte's wand of a left peg. A reliable set-piece specialist, the Irishman often chipped in with his fair share of goals every season – he managed 31 combined in all competitions between 1998/99 and 2001/02 – but it wasn't until his spell at Carlisle in 2009/10 that he hit his peak scoring form.

The former Leeds and Levante full back notched an impressive 18 goals in all competitions for the Cumbrians, including an absolute stunner in a 1-1 draw against Cheltenham. Reading came calling for his services the following campaign, and the success continued: he helped the Royals win promotion to the Premier League in 2011/12, and was named in back-to-back PFA Championship Team(s) of the Year.

Next: This season's League One king

10. Josh Morris (15 and counting, 2016/17)

  • Previous best: 8 (Fleetwood, 2014/15)
  • Best since: N/a

Scunthorpe's Morris had only scored his first professional goal in February 2014 after making his senior debut in November 2010, but demonstrated his threat in that successful loan spell at Fleetwood with eight goals from the wing. But this year he's reached new heights upon being re-united with Graham Alexander, scoring 15 goals in his first 22 games for the League One leaders who he joined from Bradford this summer. 

9. Adam Barrett (11, 2004/05)

  • Previous best: 4 (Bristol Rovers, 2003/04) 
  • Best since: 7 (Southend, 2007/08)

Wily campaigner Barrett has twice been named in the PFA League Two Team of the Season (and once for the League One edition) in his 17-year playing career. In one of those seasons – 2004/05, his very first at Southend as they won the fourth-tier play-offs – the stopper netted an impressive 11 goals from the back. 

8. Lee McCulloch (26, 2012/13)

  • Previous best:14 (Wigan, 2004/05) 
  • Best since: 18 (Rangers, 2013/14)

Former winger-turned-centre-back McCulloch (not even James Milner is described as a 'utility player' on their Wikipedia page) thrived during Rangers' successful climb back to the Scottish top flight after financial irregularities saw them relegated to the third division. Despite playing at centre-back and central midfield throughout the season, McCulloch – a reliable goal contrbiuter during his seven seasons at Wigan from 2001-07 – managed a whopping 26 net-ripplers in all competitions. He followed that up in 2013/14 with another 17 in the second tier (one of which you can see below). 

7. Marco Materazzi (12, 2000/01)

  • Previous best: 7 (Carpi, 1996/97) 
  • Best since: 10 (Inter, 2006/07)

The man famed for receiving Zinedine Zidane's noggin to his chest in the 2006 World Cup Final was much more than a wind-up merchant. Materazzi – a Champions League winner with Inter in 2010, lest we forget – broke the Serie A record for goals from a defender in one season by notching 11 for Perugia from his centre-back slot – seven from the penalty spot (it should have been eight really – one came from a rebound off a missed spot-kick). 

Next: If it wasn't for the injuries...

6. Aaron Ramsey (16, 2013/14)

  • Previous best: 4 (Arsenal, 2009/10)
  • Best since: 10 (Arsenal, 2014/15)

After a tricky start to his Arsenal career – not helped by a broken leg suffered against Stoke in 2010 – Ramsey came to the fore in the Gunners' 2013/14 campaign. The Welshman smashed his previous best of four goals in one season with 16 in all competitions, 13 of them coming before Christmas (including two late Champions League winners away at Marseille and Borussia Dortmund). A thigh strain ruled him out of 14 Premier League games, but he returned to bag the winner in the 2014 FA Cup Final against Hull.

5. Daniel Passarella (24, 1976)

  • Previous best: 9 (River Plate, 1975)
  • Best since: 13 (River Plate, 1977)

The Argentine legend was a rock at the back for his country for 12 years, and captained them to World Cup success in 1978. Before moving to Europe with Fiorentina in 1982, Passarella bagged a record 24 goals from centre-back for River Plate in 1976 – though he was generally a fine scorer, and held the record for goals from a defender until Ronald Koeman broke it. He also achieved the Serie A record of 11 in his final season in Florence (later beaten by Marco Materazzi). 

4. Derek Mountfield (14, 1984/85)

  • Previous best: 3 (Everton, 1983/84)

Liverpudlian centre-back Mountfield starred at Everton in the mid-to-late '80s, helping them to FA Cup glory in 1984 and later winning two league championship medals at Goodison Park. Mountfield netted a superb 14 goals from centre-back in the second of those, including the winner in the 1985 FA Cup Semi-Final against Luton. After leaving The Toffees a year later, Mountfield never hit such heights again in spells at Aston Villa, Wolves, Carlisle, Northampton, Walsall and Scarborough.

Next: Your favourite maverick

3. Gaizka Mendieta (19, 1999/00)

  • Previous best: 12 (Valencia, 1998/99)
  • Best since: 13 (Valencia, 2000/01)

From Valencia to Teesside, via Barcelona and Rome – at the turn of the millennium Mendieta was regarded as one of Europe's top midfield playmakers. He became more of a deep-lying general but showed terrific threat in various midfield roles with Valencia; in his penultimate year the Spaniard netted 19 in all competitions, helping los Che finish third and reach the 2000 Champions League Final.

It was enough to see him crowned European Midfielder of the Season and, a year later, earn him a €48million move to Lazio to replace Juan Seba Veron. But it didn't go to plan – after a year in Rome he left for Barcelona, then Middlesbrough, who he helped to League Cup glory in 2004. 

2. Phil Edwards (13, 2010/11)

  • Previous best: 9 (Accrington, 2009/10) 
  • Best since: 6 (Burton Albion, 2014/15)

Current Oxford United right-back Edwards had a Midas touch for Accrington Stanley in 2010/11, when he managed 13 league goals. Nine of those came from the penalty spot, mind, but in context the defender (or part-time defensive midfielder) has mustered only eight goals in the following six seasons combined at Stevenage, Rochdale, Burton and Oxford. 

1. Jose Luis Chilavert (12, 1997/98)

  • Previous best: 11 (Velez Sarsfield, 1996/97)
  • Best since: 8 (Velez Sarsfield, 1999/2000)

Maverick Paraguayan Chilavert was nicknamed 'The Bulldog' throughout his career, and often played with one printed on the front of his shirt. The goalkeeper racked up 67 goals for club and country in a 22-year career that featured spells in his home nation, Argentina, France and Uruguay.

Chilavert enjoyed his most prolific season with Velez Sarsfield in 1997/98, hitting 12 goals for El Fortin, and then starred for Paraguay in the 1998 World Cup which earned him a place in the tournament's all-star squad. He remains the only goalkeeper ever to score a hat trick, a feat he achieved when he netted a treble of penalties against Ferro Oeste in 1999. 

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