England's top 5 strikers, according to Neil Humphreys
Rooney won't be considered England's finest striker even if he breaks scoring record
Wayne Rooney hopes to become the greatest of them all on Monday morning (Singapore time). He needs a double against Slovenia to equal Sir Bobby Charlton's England record of 49 international goals.
A hat-trick in the Euro 2016 Qualifier will leave him alone at the summit.
Still only 29, Rooney will eventually top England's all-time scoring charts. But does that make him their best centre forward? Here are my top five strikers...
5 ALAN SHEARER (30 goals, 63 caps)
If this were a top five of English strikers, rather than England strikers, the definitive No. 9 would feature more prominently.
For his clubs, Shearer encapsulated the complete centre forward. In the final third, he had no flaws. His ability to score with either foot from both sides of the box was matched by his aerial ability and physical presence.
He played with socks down and elbows out and made no apologies for his heavy industry. But injuries at inconvenient times robbed his nation of a nascent star.
Had he been available, England would've almost certainly qualified for the 1994 World Cup. His absence was only amplified by his heroics at Euro 1996, where the Three Lions were just a penalty shoot-out away from the final. When England destroyed the Dutch 4-1 in the group stage, he offered a glimpse of what a fully fit Shearer was capable of at the highest level.
4 GEOFF HURST (24 goals, 49 caps)
Again, in domestic football, both Michael Owen and Robbie Fowler were more accomplished finishers than the industrious Hurst. But the West Ham striker went where no man had ever gone before (and still hasn't).
Pele, Diego Maradona, Johan Cruyff, Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane all reached World Cup finals, but only Hurst came away with the match ball. His three goals against an excellent West Germany side marshalled by the rising Kaiser Franz Beckenbauer gives the workmanlike finisher the edge over the more gifted Owen and Fowler.
3 WAYNE ROONEY (47 goals, 104 caps)
Despite his 47 goals, Rooney's name is perhaps the most controversial on this list. His inclusion is largely based on performances from more than a decade ago.
At Euro 2004, he was arguably the player of the tournament until his injury. As Gary Lineker pointed out this week, if Rooney had retained his fitness, the Three Lions might have prevailed in Portugal.
Young, fearless, inventive and freakishly strong, Rooney terrified opponents at Euro 2004. He was a problem with no obvious cure. But foot injuries, oxygen tanks, red cards and those alarming dips in form at the wrong times stopped Rooney from really getting close to his explosive performances in Portugal.
Booed off the pitch at the World Cup in 2010, Rooney seethed in silence after another lacklustre tournament at Euro 2012, leaving then-England coach Fabio Capello to complain that his striker only "performs well in Manchester".
Rooney's scowling demeanour and peripheral presence in Brazil last year appeared to corroborate Capello's complaint. Magnificent in Manchester, but so often mediocre in an England jersey, Rooney remains the most exasperating striker of his generation.
But his all-round play, dogged tenacity and scoring consistency earn him the nod here. A blazing Indian summer at Euro 2016 should finally warm the hearts of sceptics.
2 GARY LINEKER (48 goals, 80 caps)
Lineker scored in flurries for his country. But then so did Peter Crouch. The difference was Lineker scored hat-tricks against Poland in the World Cup – still one of the quickest in the tournament's history – whereas Crouch went home with the match ball after a Mickey Mouse friendly against Jamaica.
By his own reckoning, Lineker's all-round game was less effective than every other striker on this list. Even Hurst became an excellent target and assist man, thanks to the nuanced coaching of both Ron Greenwood and, to a lesser extent, Sir Alf Ramsey.
But Lineker was a penalty-box predator beyond compare. He just scored. And he scored regularly at the game's apex, knocking in 10 goals across two World Cup tournaments.
His ratio was critical during an era when the rugby scorelines that were commonplace in the Sixties and Seventies gave way to cagier affairs. His most important finish for his country - the equaliser against West Germany in the 1990 World Cup semi-final - illustrated his uncanny instincts. The diagonal pass from Paul Parker offered a sniff of a goal, but it was enough. Lineker seized on his only presentable chance and scored. He always did.
1 JIMMY GREAVES (44 goals, 57 games)
Before firing apoplectic e-mails that vehemently question my No. 1 choice, do a couple of things first. Look at his ratio. He scored for England once every 117 minutes.
Rooney has picked up almost twice as many caps to score three more goals.
And then find Greaves on YouTube. He scored everywhere, from every position, height and angle and on every quagmire, in different countries and continents. He sustained his phenomenal consistency for Chelsea, AC Milan, Tottenham and England.
"I had a goal drought once," he once famously said. "It was the worst 15 minutes of my career."
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