The Championship is renowned for being one of the toughest leagues to get out of, but having these guys up top would certainly help the cause of any promotion-chasing side.
The following 10 players have been more prolific than anyone since the Championship's inception in the 2004/05 season - and most of them have racked up the goals for several second-tier sides.
10. Troy Deeney - 88 goals
All but four of Deeney’s 88 Championship goals came in the yellow and black of Watford.
He twice helped the Hornets reach the Premier League, in 2014/15 and 2019/20, and hit a particularly hot streak when he reached double figures in four consecutive second-tier seasons leading up to that first promotion.
Deeney’s best tally was his 24-goal haul in 2013/14, although he was named in the PFA Team of the Year the following season after netting 21 times and providing 10 assists. Now at Birmingham, the 33-year-old struck four times for the Blues last season.
9. Charlie Austin – 88 goals
Austin has scored the same number of goals as Deeney, but in 218 games compared to the Watford legend’s 244.
Another player who has bounced up and down between the top two divisions, Austin’s best Championship season came with Burnley in 2012/13, when he netted 24 goals.
Now in a second spell with QPR, the 32-year-old scored five goals in 34 games last season as the London club finished 11th.
8. Lukas Jutkiewicz – 90 goals
A Championship stalwart, Jutkiewicz has completed 14 seasons in the second tier for six different clubs.
Starting at Plymouth and working his way through Coventry, Middlesbrough, Bolton and Burnley, the striker finally found a home at Birmingham City, where he has spent the last six years.
The 33-year-old has had the most productive spell of his career at St. Andrew’s, hitting double figures in three of his six seasons there – although he mustered just two goals last term.
7. Daryl Murphy – 93 goals
The first retired player on this list, Murphy was a reliable source of goals in the Championship during his playing days, hitting his peak in 2014/15 when he won the Golden Boot after scoring 27 goals for Ipswich Town.
That year the Irishman won the Tractor Boys’ Player of the Year award and earned a place in the PFA Team of the Year, and it was the middle season of three consecutive campaigns where he hit double figures.
Murphy never quite rediscovered that form after leaving Ipswich in 2016, though, as he scored five goals in his one season with Newcastle before netting 11 over two years at Nottingham Forest.
6. Chris Martin - 109 goals
Martin boasts the most Championship appearances of any player on this list, having played 423 games for seven clubs in England’s second tier.
The Scotland international has featured in 16 Championship seasons since starting at Norwich in 2006, and his best spell came at Derby County between 2013 and 2016, when he netted 53 goals over three seasons.
The 33-year-old is still going strong with Bristol City and was their second-top scorer last season with 12 goals, behind Andreas Weimann's 22.
5. Lewis Grabban – 112 goals
Grabban’s 112-goal haul has been racked up between more clubs than any other player on this list – eight in total.
Starting off at Crystal Palace, the striker went on to represent Millwall, Bournemouth, Norwich, Reading, Sunderland, Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest in the second tier.
He might not be in the Championship next year though, as his 12-goal contribution helped Forest win promotion back to the top flight in 2021/22, the third season in the last four that the 34-year-old has hit double figures for the club.
4. Jordan Rhodes - 118 goals
Rhodes may well climb to the top of this list in time, as the Scotland international still has several seasons ahead of him aged 32.
Now in a second spell with Huddersfield, Rhodes is something of a Championship stalwart, having played 14 seasons in the second tier for six different clubs, winning the title with Norwich in 2018/19.
His most prolific spell came in a Blackburn shirt between 2012 and 2015, when the Scot hit 26, 26 and 21 goals in successive seasons, helping him earn a place in the Football League team of the decade in 2015.
3. Ross McCormack – 120 goals
Another Scot to thrive in the Championship, McCormack is best remembered for his spells at Cardiff, Leeds and Fulham.
He won the Golden Boot in 2013/14 after hitting 28 goals for Leeds, while McCormack has twice been named in the PFA Team of the Year and twice won Fulham’s Player of the Year award.
2. David Nugent – 121 goals
Nugent was as reliable as they come in the second tier, and his 20-goal haul in 2013/14 was key to Leicester City’s promotion.
The striker then did it again with Middlesbrough two years later, scoring another eight goals as Boro were promoted as runners-up, but it was earlier in his career that Nugent established a reputation as a prolific marksman.
He reached double figures in six separate seasons in the Championship, but never managed to make the same impact in the Premier League, be it with Portsmouth, Burnley, Leicester or Boro.
1. Billy Sharp – 128 goals
The top scorer of the Championship era is still going strong aged 36, as Sharp notched 14 of his 128 goals in the division last season for Sheffield United.
The Blades captain has enjoyed a late-career surge in Yorkshire, helping the club climb from League One to the Premier League in three years, but he also made contributions earlier in his career for five other Championship clubs: Leeds, Doncaster, Reading, Nottingham Forest and Southampton.
Sharp’s best-ever season was in 2018/19, when he scored 23 times to send Sheffield United to the top flight, earning a place in the PFA Team of the Year and EFL Team of the Season (for a second time) in the process.
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Alasdair Mackenzie is a freelance journalist based in Rome, and a FourFourTwo contributor since 2015. When not pulling on the FFT shirt, he can be found at Reuters, The Times and the i. An Italophile since growing up on a diet of Football Italia on Channel 4, he now counts himself among thousands of fans sharing a passion for Ross County and Lazio.
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