Around three years’ ago, I did some research into the UFWC’s all-time top goalscorers. In the wake of the Netherlands’ recent record-breaking run as UFWC champions, I have done some further research to see if any current Netherlands players have broken into the upper echelons of the list.
The outcome is that despite the Netherlands scoring 47 goals in their recent run as champions, not one of their players has broken into the all-time top 18 – an indication of just how difficult it is for a modern-day player to do so. To reach the list, a player needs a total of 10 UFWC goals. Of the current Dutch squad, Robin van Persie has nine, Dirk Kuyt and Wesley Sneijder eight, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar six, and Arjen Robben and Rafael van der Vaart five.
There have, however, been a couple of very minor changes to the list, both involving the goals totals of 19th-century players. Of course, many goals in that era were disputed, and one will never know for certain who scored them. I have, however, used the best (and most official) sources at my disposal!
Here is the current list (please note some of these players have more in-depth biographies in the UFWC Hall of Fame):
1) Gunnar Nordahl (Sweden) (1921-95)
29 goals in 19 games, 1942-47
The UFWC’s all-time top scorer by a huge margin, he played a total of 33 games for Sweden between 1942 and 1948, scoring 43 goals.
The UFWC games he scored in during this period are listed below (holder in capitals):
04/10/42 SWEDEN beat Denmark 2-1 (scored 1)
12/09/43 Sweden lost to HUNGARY 2-3 (scored 2)
07/11/43 Sweden beat HUNGARY 7-2 (scored 2)
24/06/45 SWEDEN beat Denmark 2-1 (scored 1)
01/07/45 SWEDEN beat Denmark 4-3 (scored 1)
30/09/45 SWEDEN beat Denmark 4-1 (scored 1)
21/10/45 SWEDEN beat Norway 10-0 (scored 4)
07/07/46 Sweden beat SWITZERLAND 7-2 (scored 1)
06/10/46 SWEDEN drew with Denmark 3-3 (scored 1)
15/06/47 SWEDEN beat Denmark 4-1 (scored 2)
26/06/47 SWEDEN beat Denmark 6-1 (scored 1)
28/06/47 SWEDEN beat Norway 5-1 (scored 4)
24/08/47 SWEDEN beat Finland 7-0 (scored 3)
14/09/47 SWEDEN beat Poland 5-4 (scored 2)
05/10/47 SWEDEN beat Norway 4-1 (scored 2)
19/11/47 SWEDEN lost to England 2-4 (scored 1)
As is clear from this list, the vast majority of his games were against Scandinavian nations, all of whom were pretty weak at the time. However, if there was any doubt about the man’s pedigree, his record at AC Milan would put that to rest. Whilst there, he was part of the Swedish Gre-No-Li trio with Nils Liedholm and the aforementioned Gunnar Gren. He won two league titles, and was the top scorer in Serie A five times. Indeed, he still holds the post-war record for most goals in a season in Italy.
Unfortunately, his move to Italy, at the age of just 27, ended his international career, and this, coupled with World War II, denied him the chance to play in a World Cup. He did, however, win an Olympic gold in London in 1948.
It is presumably his failure to appear in a World Cup, along with the fact that his career largely predated TV coverage of football, that has cost him the recognition he deserves. Nordahl is a true legend of the game, and a true legend of UFWC.
2=) Hughie Gallacher (Scotland) (1903-57)
20 goals in 15 games, 1925-35
A contender for the accolade of greatest ever Scottish goalscorer, Gallacher was a star of the ‘Wembley Wizards’ side that thrashed England 5-1 in 1928. In total, he scored 23 goals in 20 internationals. He spent most of his club career south of the border, with Newcastle and Chelsea amongst others. Standing a diminutive 5’5”, his no-nonsense approach often landed him in trouble, both on and off the pitch. In retirement, he struggled to find a niche for himself. He turned to alcohol and, in 1957, committed suicide on a railway line.
2=) Steve Bloomer (England) (1874-1938)
20 goals in 17 games, 1895-1907
Steve Bloomer remains a Derby County legend, more than a century since he made his debut. His goalscoring record was phenomenal for club and country alike. He scored 28 in just 23 games for England, and is the third highest scorer in the English top flight, after Jimmy Greaves and Dixie Dean. In 1906, he moved to Middlesbrough for £750, but returned to Derby four years later. He spent the First World War as a prisoner in Germany. He also played baseball for Derby!
4) Gabriel Batistuta (Argentina) (born 1969)
18 goals in 23 games, 1992-98
Argentina’s all-time top scorer, with 56 goals in total, ‘Batigol’ spent most of his career with Fiorentina, although it was to be Roma that gave him his only Serie A title. On the international front, he won two Copa Americas. In 1998, he became the first player ever to score hat-tricks in two different World Cups. He currently runs a construction company in Argentina.
5) Gunnar Gren (Sweden) (1920-91)
16 goals in 22 games, 1942-58
Most famous as part of AC Milan’s formidable Swedish ‘Gre-No-Li’ trio, Gren’s international career spanned 18 years. He starred in the Swedish teams that won gold at the 1948 Olympics, and reached the World Cup final on home territory ten years later. At club level, he won league titles with IFK Gothenburg and Milan.
6=) Anton Schall (Austria) (1907-47)
15 goals in 11 games, 1931-32
Schall was a star of Austria’s 1934 World Cup ‘Wunderteam’ that lost to hosts Italy in the semi-finals. It remains a highly controversial match, with Mussolini seemingly directly responsible for some strange refereeing decisions from Ivan Eklind (who again appeared to favour Italy in the final). Schall won seven Austrian championships with Admira Vienna. In 1947, he won the Swiss Cup as manager of FC Basel, but died months later.
6=) Pele (Brazil) (born 1940)
15 goals in 14 games, 1957-62
Globally feted as the greatest footballer of all time, Pele has won three World Cups, and scored over 1000 goals in his career (although many of these were in matches of very dubious standing). He only played for two clubs, Santos and New York Cosmos. His nearest rival for the accolade ‘greatest player ever’, Diego Maradona, has scored a mere five UFWC goals.
6=) Michel Platini (France) (born 1955)
15 goals in 18 games, 1976-85
Currently the President of UEFA, Platini was French national captain for eight years, taking his side to two World Cup semi-finals, both ending in defeat to West Germany. In between, his side won Euro 84, Platini himself scoring nine goals in five games. He later had less success as the manager of France. With Juventus, he won the Italian league (twice), the Coppa Italia, the Cup-Winners Cup and the European Cup.
9=) Matthias Sindelar (Austria) (1903-39)
13 goals in 12 games, 1931-32
‘The Mozart of Football’, Sindelar was one of the greatest Austrian players of all time. His international career was ended by the Nazi Anschluss of 1938, and his subsequent refusal to play for the German team. A year later, he died from carbon monoxide poisoning. Recorded officially as an accident, there are plenty who believe it was not.
9=) Oliver Bierhoff (Germany) (born 1968)
13 goals in 19 games, 1996-2001
A German hero following his goals at Wembley that won Euro 96, Bierhoff’s best years were spent in Italy, with Udinese and Milan. He is currently general manager of the German national team.
11=) Robert Hamilton (Scotland) (1877-1948)
11 goals in 6 games, 1899-1911
Hamilton spent most of his long career with Rangers, with whom he won numerous honours. Four of his UFWC goals came in an 11-0 win over Ireland in 1901, which is still Scotland’s record victory.
11=) Vivian Woodward (England) (1879-1954)
11 goals in 11 games, 1904-10
Fiercely determined to remain amateur when all around him were turning professional, Woodward scored 29 goals for England, which remained the national record for over 40 years. That’s not to mention the 57 goals he scored for England Amateurs. He twice captained Great Britain to Olympic football gold.
11=) Stan Mortensen (England) (1921-91)
11 goals in 11 games, 1947-50
Mortensen is the only player since 1894 to score an FA Cup final hat-trick, and still the match in question (the 1953 final) is referred to as the Matthews Final! After that match, Blackpool – the club with which Mortensen remains synonymous – did not reach Wembley again until 1991. Mortensen died that very day.
11=) Antonio Valentin Angelillo (Argentina) (born 1937)
11 goals, 1956-57 (approx 11 games, but I am unable to find exact records for his career)
Like many South American-born players of his era, Angelillo appeared for two different countries. He moved to Inter in 1957, ending his Argentina career. He scored 33 goals in Serie A in 1958-59 (nobody has scored as many since), and subsequently represented Italy. He still works for Inter, as a South American scout.
15=) George Ker (Scotland)
10 goals in 5 games, 1880-82
Ker only represented Scotland five times, yet scored three goals on his debut, twice in each of his next three games, and once on his final appearance. In 1884, he emigrated to North America, and nothing has been heard of him since.
15=) Dixie Dean (England) (1907-80)
10 goals in 7 games, 1927-31
Destined to remain forever as the highest goalscorer in a single English league season (60 goals for Everton in 1931-32), William Ralph Dean scored 18 goals in just 16 internationals. He died of a heart attack, suffered at Goodison Park whilst watching the Merseyside derby.
15=) John Goodall (England) (1863-1942)
10 goals in 11 games, 1888-96
Preston went through the entire 1888-89 season unbeaten in league or FA Cup – the only team ever to achieve this. Goodall was top scorer. He then moved to Derby, where he stayed for over a decade. He later played in France for Roubaix, and also played cricket for Derbyshire.
15=) Igor Chislenko (USSR) (1939-94)
10 goals in 17 games, 1966-67
During his international career, Chislenko helped his nation finish second in the 1964 European Nations Cup, and then fourth in both the 1966 World Cup and the 1968 European Championships. He won two league winners medals in his long association with Dinamo Moscow.