With this summers World Cup in Russia in full swing and England captain Harry Kane banging in the goals for the Three Lions, we thought it would be the perfect time to take a look at England’s all time leading international goal scorers.
5. Michael Owen – 40 goals
An England international for ten years featuring in five major tournaments, Owen debuted for his country in 1998 before going on to truly announce himself at the World Cup in France later that year. The iconic image of a teenage Owen’s scoring that goal against Argentina remains one of the most memorable in the Three Lions recent history.
One of Europe’s deadliest forwards at the turn of the century, he scored a stunning hat-trick in England’s famous 5-1 victory over Germany in 2001, a year which saw him win the Ballon D’or. Injuries, including a cruciate knee ligament injury sustained at the 2006 World Cup, blighted his later career as he finished his international career having scored 40 goals in 89 caps.
4. Jimmy Greaves – 44 goals
The greatest goal scorer in English league history with 357 goals, Jimmy Greaves carried his prolific form onto the international stage with England. He made his debut as a teenager in 1959, scoring in a 4-1 defeat to Peru before going on to establish himself in the team, scoring consecutive hat-tricks against Northern Ireland and Luxembourg the following year.
He was the first choice forward as England hosted 1966 World Cup, starting all three group games before suffering a nasty shin injury in the final game against France. His replacement, Geoff Hurst, scored the winner in the quarter-final and kept his place until the final scoring a famous hat-trick as England were crowned World Champions. Greaves was later awarded a World Cup winners medal after a change in Fifa rules in 2009. He holds the record for the most England hat-tricks with six, and finished his career with 44 goals in just 57 caps.
3. Gary Lineker- 48 goals
A prolific goal scorer at club level with clubs such as Everton, Barcelona and Tottenham, Lineker was the focal point for the England team during an eight year international career. He top-scored at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, making him to date the only Englishmen to win the Golden Boot at a World Cup finals. His hat-trick against Poland in that tournament remains the second-quickest in World Cup history, and just the second scored by an English player.
In a pre-tournament friendly against Brazil prior to Euro 92, Lineker famously missed a penalty that would have seen him tie the national team’s goal scoring record. In what would prove to be his last match for his country, he was substituted against Sweden, denying him the opportunity to equal or perhaps surpass the landmark.
2. Bobby Charlton – 49 goals
A vital member of the 1966 World Cup winning squad, Charlton is widely regarded as one of English football’s greatest ever players. He marked his England debut with a goal against Scotland in 1958, just two months after surviving the Munich air disaster. He followed that up with a brace against Portugal in his next game and it caused surprise when the young midfielder did not play during the 1958 World Cup.
Eight years later and Charlton traveled to his third World Cup established as one of the world’s finest footballers. He was instrumental scoring three times, including a brace in the semi-final, as England lifted the trophy. He was crowned the Balon D’or winner that year. He retired after the 1970 World Cup, having scored 49 goals in 106 caps, at the time, both of which were records.
1. Wayne Rooney – 53 goals
A teenage prodigy, Rooney became England’s youngest ever player when he debuted at 17 in 2003, and became the Three Lions youngest ever goal scorer when he opened his account later that year. He truly burst onto the scene at Euro 2004, scoring four times in the group stage before a quarter-final injury prematurely ended his, and perhaps England’s tournament.
He appeared in six major tournaments, sadly never hitting those 2004 heights again as England’s ‘Golden Generation’ failed to live up to their potential. With his talismanic status, he took over the captaincy in 2014, and matched Charlton’s record with a penalty against San Marino in 2015. Three days later he claimed the record outright, with another penalty taking him to 50 international goals. He remains England’s most capped outfield player, trailing only Peter Shilton and their highest ever goalscorer with 53 goals.