The best strikers of the 1990s

Ronaldo Roberto Baggio
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Putting the ball in the back of the net is the most important part of football, so forwards have long been the sport’s most prized players.

Here are the best strikers of the 1990s, from brilliant Brazilians to Italian icons and Spanish sensations.

33. David Trezeguet 

David Trezeguet

David Trezeguet (Image credit: Getty Images)

Trezeguet made himself a guaranteed pick for France’s World Cup 1998 squad after scoring 24 goals for Monaco in the season leading up to the tournament. The 20-year-old started two games at France’s triumphant World Cup, scoring once.

Trezeguet enjoyed two more successful seasons with Monaco, establishing himself as one of the best young strikers around before a move to Juventus early in the 21st century.

32. Serhiy Rebrov 

Sergiy Rebrov

Sergiy Rebrov (Image credit: Getty Images)

Rebrov didn’t live up to expectations at Tottenham in the early 2000s, but before that he was a lethal frontman in his native Ukraine.

Rebrov notched 139 goals in 283 appearances for Dynamo Kyiv, winning seven league titles during the 1990s. Between 1997 and 1999 he scored 10 times in the Champions League as Dynamo reached the quarters and the semis under Valeriy Lobanovskyi.

31. Nwankwo Kanu 

Nwankwo Kanu

Nwankwo Kanu (Image credit: Getty Images)

An elegant forward with excellent technique, the 6ft 6in Kanu was a joy to watch. He was part of the Ajax squad that won the 1995 Champions League, coming off the bench in the final against AC Milan.

A two-year spell at Inter didn’t go to plan, but Kanu rediscovered his best form at Arsenal in the late 1990s after Arsene Wenger took the Nigerian under his wing.

30. Mario Jardel

Mario Jardel

Mario Jardel (Image credit: Getty Images)

Jardel enjoyed a sensational season with Gremio in 1995, scoring 42 goals in all competitions as the Brazilian side won the Copa Libertadores. 

He joined Porto a year later and continued to score goals at a remarkable rate, putting the ball in the net 114 times in 125 games between 1996 and 1999. Surprisingly, a brief stint with Bolton was his only experience in one of Europe’s top five leagues.

29. Andriy Shevchenko

Andriy Shevchenko

Andriy Shevchenko (Image credit: Getty Images)

Shevchenko burst onto the scene with Dynamo Kyiv in 1995/96, scoring 19 goals at the age of 20. He starred as the Ukrainian outfit reached the last eight of the Champions League in 1997/98.

Shevchenko and Dynamo went one better the following year: the striker was the top scorer in the competition with 10 goals, helping his side reach the semis. He then joined AC Milan for €24m.

28. Fernando Morientes

Fernando Morientes

Fernando Morientes (Image credit: Getty Images)

Morientes started out at Albacete but his performances for Real Zaragoza marked him out as a star in the making. A move to Real Madrid followed in 1997, just in time for the Spaniard to play a part in their Champions League triumph under Jupp Heynckes.

Morientes’ most prolific ever season was the last of the decade, as he scored 25 goals for Madrid in 1998/99.

27. Ian Wright

Ian Wright

Ian Wright (Image credit: Getty Images)

After several superb seasons at Crystal Palace, Wright joined Arsenal in 1991 for a club-record fee at the time. For six campaigns on the bounce he was the club’s top scorer, and he became their all-time leading goal-getter in 1997 (but has since been surpassed by Thierry Henry).

He was in decline in his final season at Highbury, yet that was the year in which Wright finally won a first Premier League title.

26. Oliver Bierhoff

Oliver Bierhoff

Oliver Bierhoff (Image credit: Getty Images)

Bierhoff was the match-winner in the Euro 1996 final, as his brace - including a golden goal in extra time - saw Germany past Czechoslovakia. Those were two of the 27 goals in 44 games for his country that decade.

At club level he spent three full seasons in Serie B with Ascoli, before finding the net 76 times in 120 Serie A games for Udinese and AC Milan.

25. Gianfranco Zola

Gianfranco Zola

  Gianfranco Zola (Image credit: Getty Images)

Zola was part of Napoli’s Serie A-winning squad in 1990, although Diego Maradona was the main man under Alberto Bigon. He spent the middle part of the decade at Parma, reaching the Cup Winners’ Cup final in 1994 and winning the UEFA Cup the next year.

Zola signed for Chelsea in 1996 and instantly won the supporters over with his creativity and technical ability.

24. Filippo Inzaghi

Filippo Inzaghi

Filippo Inzaghi (Image credit: Getty Images)

Alex Ferguson once memorably suggested that Inzaghi was born offside. A true fox in the box who came alive in the penalty area but contributed little outside it, the Atalanta sharp-shooter beat opposition goalkeepers 25 times in 1996/97.

That earned Inzaghi a move to Juventus, where he scored 27 goals in all competitions as the Old Lady won the Serie A title in 1998.

23. Dwight Yorke

Dwight Yorke

Dwight Yorke (Image credit: Getty Images)

Yorke joined Manchester United in the summer of 1998 and immediately had his greatest ever season. He had been prolific at Aston Villa previously, but a career-best 29 goals in 51 games in 1998/99 helped United to the treble.

Yorke struck up a fantastic partnership with Andrew Cole, with the pair hitting it off instantly. “[It was] an almost telepathic understanding,” said Alex Ferguson.

22. Christian Vieri

Christian Vieri

Christian Vieri (Image credit: Getty Images)

Vieri bounced around from club to club in the 1990s, turning out for Torino, Pisa, Ravenna, Venezia, Atalanta, Juventus, Atletico Madrid and Lazio

His eight goals helped Juve to the Serie A title in 1996/97, but it was the following season with Atletico where Vieri made the best impression, scoring 29 times in 32 games in all competitions. He then helped Lazio win the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1999.

21. Gianluca Vialli

Gianluca Vialli

Gianluca Vialli (Image credit: Getty Images)

Vialli’s match-winning double in the 1990 Cup Winners’ Cup final capped off a fine campaign for the Sampdoria striker. He then scored 20 goals across domestic and continental competition as the Italian side won Serie A and reached the European Cup final in 1991/92.

Vialli averaged around a goal every three games at Juventus, before showing his class at Chelsea in the late 1990s.

20. Sonny Anderson

Sonny Anderson

Sonny Anderson (Image credit: Getty Images)

Sonny Anderson had a terrific record for Servette in the Swiss Super League, but it was only after he moved to France that people began to sit up and take notice. 

The Brazilian only ever made six appearances for his country, despite breaking the 20-goal barrier in back-to-back seasons for Monaco, culminating in a Ligue 1 title. He also starred as Barcelona won La Liga in 1997/98 and 1998/99.

19. Marco van Basten

Marco van Basten

Marco van Basten (Image credit: Getty Images)

Van Basten’s peak was in the 1980s, as he led AC Milan and the Netherlands to European glory. His career was tragically cut short by injury at the age of 28, with his last professional appearance coming in 1993.

He was still the best striker around at the start of the decade, though, winning another European Cup, two Serie A titles and his second Ballon d’Or.

18. Roberto Mancini

Roberto Mancini

Roberto Mancini (Image credit: Getty Images)

Mancini was an integral part of the Sampdoria side that won the 1990 Cup Winners’ Cup and the Serie A title of 1991/92. The striker also scored four goals in the European Cup that season as Samp finished as runners-up.

Mancini stayed at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris until 1997, when the 32-year-old joined Lazio. He won a Coppa Italia and a Cup Winners’ Cup in the capital before the new millennium. 

17. Patrick Kluivert

Patrick Kluivert

Patrick Kluivert (Image credit: Getty Images)

Kluivert achieved more as a teenager than many strikers do during their entire careers. At 18 he scored the winning goal in the Champions League final, helping Louis van Gaal’s youthful Ajax team to glory.

Kluivert ended his Ajax career having scored 53 times in 101 matches. He struggled at AC Milan but then became a key player at Barcelona, winning the La Liga title in 1998/99.

16. Robbie Fowler

Robbie Fowler

Robbie Fowler (Image credit: Getty Images)

Few youngsters in Premier League history have made as big an early impact as Fowler. The Liverpool striker scored 31, 36 and 31 goals in three consecutive campaigns, all before turning 22.

Fowler was unable to maintain that remarkable scoring rate for the rest of his career, but in the 1990s he was one of the best around. You don’t get the nickname ‘God’ for nothing.

15. Andy Cole

Andy Cole

Andy Cole  (Image credit: Getty Images)

Cole enjoyed one of the greatest ever debut Premier League seasons in 1993/94, smashing home 34 goals for promoted Newcastle. Within a few months he was at Manchester United after a shock switch in January 1995.

Cole’s first two full seasons at Old Trafford were mediocre by his high standards, but between 1997 and 1999 he was electric, culminating in United’s treble in the latter year.

14. Jean-Pierre Papin

Jean-Pierre Papin

Jean-Pierre Papin (Image credit: Getty Images)

Papin began the 1990s by winning three consecutive Ligue 1 titles with Marseille, whose fans consider him one of their greatest ever players. The Frenchman scored 36 goals in a Ballon d’Or-winning 1990/91 and 38 in 1991/92.

Then came a move to AC Milan, where he instantly hit 20 goals in his debut campaign. Papin won back-to-back Serie A titles and a Champions League, plus a UEFA Cup with Bayern Munich.

13. Alessandro del Piero

Alessandro del Piero

Alessandro del Piero (Image credit: Getty Images)

Del Piero only scored one goal for Padova in Serie B, but Juventus clearly saw something they liked in him. He won three Serie A titles in the 1990s, while also helping the Old Lady to Champions League glory in 1995/96.

In 1997/98 Del Piero scored 32 goals in all competitions, his best ever return. Juventus reached another Champions League final that year, but Real Madrid ran out 1-0 winners in Amsterdam.

12. Raul


Raul (Image credit: Getty Images)

A Real Madrid academy product, Raul’s second season in the first team saw him hit 26 goals in all competitions, while 21 La Liga strikes in 1996/97 helped the Blancos win the title.

Madrid were crowned European champions the following campaign, with Raul contributing two goals along the way. A natural finisher, he was also able to play as a second striker when required.

11. Davor Suker

Davor Suker

Davor Suker (Image credit: Getty Images)

Only Alan Shearer scored more goals than Suker at Euro 1996, and no one could stop the Croatian claiming the Golden Boot at the 1998 World Cup.

At club level he made the net bulge with regularity during five years with Sevilla, before notching 49 goals in 109 games for Real Madrid, with whom he won a La Liga title and a Champions League.

10. Hristo Stoichkov

Hristo Stoichkov

Hristo Stoichkov (Image credit: Getty Images)

A temperamental talent, Stoichkov caused his managers as many problems as he did opposition defenders. On his day, though, the Bulgaria international was unplayable, as he demonstrated at the 1994 World Cup.

Stoichkov scored more than 20 goals in four consecutive seasons at Barcelona, where he won five La Liga titles, a Champions League and a Cup Winners’ Cup.

9. Eric Cantona

Eric Cantona

Eric Cantona (Image credit: Getty Images)

Arguably the most influential player in Premier League history, Cantona changed the fortunes of Manchester United following his shock transfer from Leeds in 1992.

The Frenchman was an essential part of four title-winning sides at Old Trafford (he also won one with Leeds). He didn’t have quite the same impact in Europe, but Cantona was the star of the first few Premier League years.

8. George Weah

George Weah

George Weah (Image credit: Getty Images)

One of the greatest African footballers of all time, Weah made a name for himself at Monaco in the early 1990s. A move to PSG followed, with the Liberian winning the Ligue 1 title at the Parc des Princes in 1993/94.

Weah also won two Serie A titles in the 1990s, starring for AC Milan in a four-and-a-half year spell. In 1995 he won the Ballon d’Or ahead of Jurgen Klinsmann and Jari Litmanen.

7. Dennis Bergkamp

Dennis Bergkamp

Dennis Bergkamp (Image credit: Getty Images)

Bergkamp kicked off the 1990s by scoring 89 goals in 120 matches for Ajax, a phenomenal return given the creative Dutchman brought plenty more to the table too. He won an Eredivisie title and a UEFA Cup before joining Inter.

Another UEFA Cup triumph followed at San Siro, but Bergkamp was on the move again in 1995. He quickly became an Arsenal icon and scored 16 Premier League goals as the Gunners won the title in 1997/98.

6. Jurgen Klinsmann

Jurgen Klinsmann

Jurgen Klinsmann (Image credit: Getty Images)

Klinsmann spent time in Serie A, Ligue 1, the Premier League and the Bundesliga in the final decade of the 20th century. 

He notched at least 20 goals a season for each of Monaco, Tottenham and Bayern Munich, plus three in the UEFA Cup as Inter lifted the trophy in 1991. At international level Klinsmann won the 1990 World Cup and Euro 1996, scoring six goals across both tournaments.

5. Alan Shearer

Alan Shearer

Alan Shearer (Image credit: Getty Images)

At his peak in the 1990s, Shearer was a force of nature. The top scorer at Euro 1996, his 171 games for Blackburn yielded 130 goals, including 34 as Rovers won the Premier League title mid-decade.

Shearer continued to score freely at boyhood club Newcastle, whom he joined for a world-record fee in 1996. No centre-back in the world relished facing Shearer in his pomp

4. Ronaldo


Ronaldo (Image credit: Getty Images)

After crashing home 54 goals in 57 outings for PSV, Ronaldo joined Barcelona in 1996/97. He then produced one of the greatest individual seasons in football history, scoring 47 goals and leaving the Spanish public wowed with his combination of physical and technical gifts.

After netting 34 strikes in his first season at Inter, Ronaldo led Brazil to the 1998 World Cup final, only to suffer a seizure on the eve of the final.

3. Gabriel Batistuta

Gabriel Batistuta

Gabriel Batistuta (Image credit: Getty Images)

Batistuta only won one league title during the 1990s, and that was right at the start of the decade with River Plate. He claimed two Copas America crowns, but his Argentina side fell short at the 1994 and 1998 World Cups.

Purely as a centre-forward, though, there were few better. The Fiorentina legend was an unerring finisher with intelligent movement and a powerful shot to boot. In 331 games for la Viola, he scored 203 goals. 

2. Romario


Romario (Image credit: Getty Images)

One of the deadliest finishers the game has ever seen, Romario seldom passed up an opportunity inside the penalty area. In the 1990s he won two league titles with PSV and one with Barcelona, for whom he scored 32 times in 1993/94.

That summer he was crowned the best player at the World Cup as Brazil added a fourth star to their jerseys. Romario went on to star for Flamengo in a still-strong Brazilian league.

1. Roberto Baggio

Roberto Baggio

Roberto Baggio (Image credit: Getty Images)

Baggio’s career almost perfectly aligned with the 1990s. Both a creator and converter of chances, the 1993 Ballon d’Or recipient scored at least 20 goals in four straight seasons for Juventus, where he won the UEFA Cup and a Serie A title.

Another scudetto followed at AC Milan, but Baggio is best remembered for his magnificent displays at the 1994 World Cup. The tournament ended cruelly, though, as Italy’s talisman missed the decisive penalty in the shoot-out.

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