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England's 1990s forwards - ranked

Ross Jackson
Apr 2, 2021, 7:00 PM GMT+1
England had an embarrassment of riches in the centre-forward department back in the 90s
England had an embarrassment of riches in the centre-forward department back in the 90s | Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
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There was a period during the glorious decade known as the 90s where bagging 20 Premier League goals a season wasn't enough to secure you a place in the England squad.

Fast forward 15 years and we're all arguing about whether Norwich striker Grant Holt deserves a shot at the big time. How times change.

As is the case with any national team, the Three Lions have had their peaks and troughs when it comes to the quality of players at their disposal, and the mid to late 90s was definitely the former when considering forward options.

The likes of Terry Venables, Glenn Hoddle and Kevin Keegan all had an embarrassment of riches available to them during their respective tenures, so, inevitably, we've taken a trip down memory lane to list the best of England's attacking options - ranking them because, well, or course we have.

12. Chris Sutton

Chris Sutton only managed to win one cap for his country
Chris Sutton only managed to win one cap for his country | Graham Chadwick/Getty Images

First up is a man who is essentially now a human version of a parody talkSPORT caller account.

Anyway, aside from some of the stuff he says while trying to be a television pundit, he was actually a really good footballer. Part of Blackburn's SAS frontline, he and Alan Shearer spearheaded Rovers' Premier League title winning campaign of 1994/95 before later moving to Chelsea in 1999.

His move to Stamford Bridge never really took off and he was soon out of the running for a place in the Three Lions squad, but to only earn one measly cap following his stellar period at Blackburn is pretty harsh.

11. Kevin Phillips

Kevin Phillips only won eight caps for the Three Lions
Kevin Phillips only won eight caps for the Three Lions | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Kevin Phillips burst onto the Premier League scene with Sunderland in the 1999/2000 season, notching 30 goals in his maiden top-flight campaign.

He never really managed to reach that extraordinary level again throughout his career and he spent the majority of the 90s playing in the lower leagues, so for that reason he's only in at number 11 on our list.

Phillips earned eight caps for England between 1999-2002 but failed to open his Three Lions account.

10. Dion Dublin

Dion Dublin is criminally overlooked by most people when looking back at England's striker options, probably because most people now think of him as that bloke obsessed with showing us stairs on daytime television.

Nonetheless, were it not for a bad injury following his move to Manchester United in 1992, his playing days would likely be far more fondly remembered.

The towering frontman was a regular goalscorer in frankly average sides like Aston Villa and Coventry, and he can count himself unfortunate to have only been rewarded with four caps.

9. Les Ferdinand

Les Ferdinand failed to establish himself as a regular in the England setup
Les Ferdinand failed to establish himself as a regular in the England setup | Gary M. Prior/Getty Images

The mid 90s saw Les Ferdinand play the best football of his career, notching over 15 Premier League goals in five consecutive seasons.

His move to Newcastle in 1995 saw him record a career best 25 league goals in his first season with the Magpies as he thrived in Kevin Keegan's 'Entertainers' team.

Ferdinand was named in the England squad for both Euro 96 and World Cup 98, scoring five goals in 17 appearance for his country.

8. Ian Wright

Ian Wright's England career spanned from 1991 to 1998
Ian Wright's England career spanned from 1991 to 1998 | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

A consistent goalscorer at club level throughout the 90s, Ian Wright saw his chances at international level limited due to his turbulent relationship with Venables.

The Arsenal man featured more for England under Glenn Hoddle, though he missed the chance to represent his country at World Cup 98 through injury.

Wright won 33 England caps over a seven-year period, scoring a respectable nine goals.

7. Stan Collymore

Stan Collymore won just three caps for his country
Stan Collymore won just three caps for his country | Ben Radford/Getty Images

Some people may raise their eyebrows at Stan Collymore featuring above the likes of Ferdinand and Wright in our list, but the truth is he was absolutely unstoppable on his day.

His spells with Nottingham Forest and Liverpool in the mid 90s really brought out the best in him, and while a number of players on this list can feel aggrieved at having only been awarded a handful of caps, Collymore's three England appearances is possibly the biggest travesty of the lot.

6. Emile Heskey

Emile Heskey went on to become a feature of the England squad
Emile Heskey went on to become a feature of the England squad | Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Emile Heskey is another England frontman who probably doesn't get the credit he deserves.

By the end of his career he was just billed as a big man who you threw up top to make a nuisance of himself, but in his early career he was one of the most difficult strikers to keep quiet in the Premier League.

Having made a name for himself at Leicester, Heskey secured an £11m move to Liverpool where he teamed up with England colleague Michael Owen.

Owen has previously described Heskey as his favourite strike partner to play alongside, and the former Leicester man was a great foil for Owen in the England team.

5. Andy Cole

Andy Cole didn't win as many caps for England as he should have
Andy Cole didn't win as many caps for England as he should have | Mark Thompson/Getty Images

How did Andy Cole only win 15 caps for England?

The man was winning trebles and scoring goals for fun at club level, but for some reason he just couldn't transfer that form to the international stage.

A couple of bad injuries in the mid 90s certainly didn't help his cause, but for a man who won just about everything there is to win with Manchester United it's incredible to think he only scored one international goal.

4. Teddy Sheringham

Teddy Sheringham enjoyed a fine England career
Teddy Sheringham enjoyed a fine England career | Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Whereas Cole's game maybe just wasn't suited to international football, Teddy Sheringham's was perfect for it.

The wily frontman had the craft and the nous needed to play at the top level, and alongside Shearer he formed a formidable partnership which took England to the semi-final of Euro 96.

In his 51 appearances for the Three Lions he bagged a surprisingly low 11 goals, though the work he did off the ball was a huge part of Shearer's success at international level.

3. Robbie Fowler

Robbie Fowler should have won a lot more caps for England
Robbie Fowler should have won a lot more caps for England | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

When a fresh-faced Robbie Fowler broke into the Liverpool team and started scoring goals for fun, you'd have banked on him racking up over 100 caps for England.

Instead he mustered just 26, and while that's hardly a shocking return, his immense talent really warranted more.

One of the most natural finishers the Premier League has ever seen, Fowler hit 25 or more in back-to-back league campaigns for the Reds in the mid 90s, yet only managed seven goals for England.

2. Michael Owen

Michael Owen burst onto the scene with Liverpool in the 90s
Michael Owen burst onto the scene with Liverpool in the 90s | JACQUES DEMARTHON/Getty Images

The man tasked with taking over from Shearer as England's main striker, and he didn't do too bad a job of it either.

Everyone remembers Owen's breakthrough moment with the England team as he made a fool of about 17 Argentina players before firing past Carlos Roa at the 1998 World Cup.

Injuries ultimately plagued his career, but 40 goals in 89 international appearances isn't too shabby.

1. Alan Shearer

Alan Shearer was England's main man in the 90s
Alan Shearer was England's main man in the 90s | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Last but not least. The definitive mid to late 90s England striker.

Shearer was an absolute goal machine at club level in the 90s, and with nearly a goal every other game in his 63 appearances for the Three Lions he wasn't too bad for his country either.

He captained England from 1996 to 2000 and carried the hopes of a nation into numerous major tournaments. He never delivered anything but that's not the point.

One of the best strikers to have graced the Premier League and undoubtedly one of England's finest.

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