The scale Alan Shearer’s all-time Premier League goal record is only growing as it becomes increasingly clear just how astonishing that number – 260 – really is.
To even get close to that mark requires prolific goalscoring over a consistent and extended period. Think of it as having to score 26 Premier League per season on 10 separate occasions. You have to score the goals, but you also have to last the distance while doing it.
Wayne Rooney is the only Premier League player other than Shearer to have broken the 200 barrier. He got to 208 in 16 Premier League seasons but still finished well shy of the record mark.
Manchester City living legend Sergio Aguero may be criminally underappreciated by many, even now, but he’s managed 180 in eight years in England. Thierry Henry maxed out at 175 in eight, and endured enough of a downturn thereafter that he wouldn’t have challenged it if he’d stayed.
Robbie Fowler (163) and Michael Owen (150) had the potential to push Shearer close, but both got injured and were burned out at the highest level by their mid or late twenties. Robin van Persie (144) only found consistent fitness for two seasons of his Premier League career, and Didier Drogba (104) wasn’t anything like as prolific as people care to remember from his nine seasons at Chelsea.
Andy Cole was a lethal striker who played a similar amount of time in the Premier League, but he was never quite as prolific – save for the 1993/94 season – and not as consistent. He got 187.
Harry Kane was considered a shoo-in to break Shearer’s record – even by the Newcastle legend himself. Yet given how the Tottenham talisman has struggled with injuries in the last couple of years and endured a downturn as a result, that is much less likely than it once appeared.
Between 2014/15 and 2017/18, Kane scored more Premier League goals year on year, improving from 21 to 30 in that time. He is one of precious few players in Premier League history to have gone on to score more goals the season after winning the Golden Boot. But 2018 appeared to be his peak and Shearer’s record, once clearly in his sights, is starting to slip away.
Injuries have stopped Kane getting to 20 league goals in either of the last two seasons. He will break Shearer’s record if he averages at least 20 goals a season for the next six years, or slightly fewer if continues playing in the Premier League until his mid-thirties.
It sounds easy put like that - Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have well and truly warped all perspective when it comes to goalscoring thanks to their superhuman numbers in Spain - but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Shearer suffered his own serious injuries during his career, missing half of the 1992/93 season with ACL damage. Later, ankle damage wrecked his 1997/98 campaign and, again, he missed half of the 2000/01 season because or more injury trouble.
Each time, Shearer came back and continued scoring goals. After returning from his ACL injury in 1993, he scored more than 30 goals in three successive seasons. After ankle trouble, he got 14 in his first season back and then 23 in the next. He got 23 again in 2001/02 after his third major injury.
Although he may divide opinion as a pundit and person, Shearer remains the most complete striker the Premier League has ever seen, ticking every single box, including a level of consistency that has been impossible for anyone to replicate since.
Shearer turns 50 today. But the chance of his Premier League goal record being broken by the time he turns 60, 70, or ever at all, seem to be getting smaller and smaller.