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Data story – England men’s top goalscorers of all-time

Harry Kane became England men’s top goalscorer of all time after goals against Italy and Ukraine in the European Championship 2024 qualifying campaign.

Kane moved ahead of Wayne Rooney, who sits on 53 goals and retired in 2021. Rooney made 120 appearances for the Three Lions, which is 38 more than Kane. However, the Tottenham striker is only 29 years-old and will have many more caps for his country to extend his goalscoring record.

Kane’s goal to game ratio of 0.67 is significantly better than Rooney’s 0.44. In fact, in the top ten of the illustrated infographic above, only Nat Lofthouse and Jimmy Greaves have better goal to game ratios than Kane with 0.91 and 0.77 respectively.

Lofthouse only played 33 games for England and scored 30 goals in an eight-year period from 1950-1958. Meanwhile, Greaves scored 44 goals in 57 games from 1959-1967, and was a part of the 1966 England squad who secured England’s only World Cup victory.

It is no surprise that the top ten list is dominated by forwards with nine out of the ten in the graph playing most of their careers as a striker or a winger. The only exception to this rule is goalscoring midfielder Frank Lampard who snuck into tenth with 29 goals in 106 appearances.

Only four of the top ten England men’s goal scorers scored a goal for England in the 21st century. Kane, Rooney, Michael Owen, and Frank Lampard are the only players in the top ten to have scored a goal for the Three Lions this century.

This is not a surprise given that the first recorded goal for England was on the 8th March 1873, which is 150 years and 18 days before the last recorded goal by Bukayo Saka in the recent 2-0 win against Ukraine.

A breakdown of Kane’s 55 goals for England shows his heavily reliance on the penalty spot, compared to the likes of Bobby Charlton, Rooney, and Gary Lineker.

The infographic above shows that from the top six all-time goal scorers for England, Kane is sixth for non-penalty goals. 32.73% of Kane’s goals for the Three Lions have come from the penalty spot, whereas Rooney and Charlton have collectively scored 10 goals for England from the spot. This is eight fewer than Kane’s 18 penalty goals.

Remarkably, Kane’s conversion rate from penalties 81.8% for England as he has missed four out of the 22, he has taken. The most notable of these was the decisive spot in the 2022 World Cup where he missed a late penalty against France in the Quarterfinals to condemn England to another failed World Cup campaign.

Greaves is the only player in the top six displayed in the infographic above to have scored zero goals from penalties. Greaves never took a penalty for England with all 44 of his goals coming from open play.

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May 2024