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8 world-class strikers who had terrible starts to their careers

Strikers are judged on goals.

It can be a tough business. Go three games without scoring and suddenly you’ve lost it.

But if you manage to get on a run you’re instantly a fan favourite. Sustain that and you’re world-class.

The following eight strikers know this better than anyone. They all recovered from early stumbles to take their places in the pantheon of greatness.

Gabriel Batistuta

It would have taken a brave man to back a young Batistuta to become the devastating striker seen at Boca Juniors, Fiorentina and Roma.

His first season in senior football, at Newell’s Old Boys, resulted in just four league goals. He fared little better in his next season, at River Plate, scoring three league goals.

A move to Boca, River’s arch-rivals, sparked his career and by the end of his first campaign he’d hit double figures and worked his way into the Argentine national squad.



Didier Drogba

Zero, seven, zero, five, three. Drogba’s goal stats for his first five seasons, four of which were spent at Le Mans with the last at Guingamp, don’t make for pretty reading.

He puts this down to a lack of academy football, meaning he struggled to adapt to the rigours of professional football.

Those struggles would be a distant memory when he was bullying Arsenal defenders for fun and winning two Premier League Golden Boots.



Ruud van Nistelrooy

Van Nistelrooy was a goalscorer first and footballer second. The type of player who wouldn’t be happy with a win unless he’d scored.

So his first three years of senior football, which produced just five goals for Den Bosch, must have been a tough time for Ruud, and those sharing a dressing room with him.

Top scorer awards in Holland, England and Spain more than made up for that though.



Samuel Eto’o

You can forgive Real Madrid for letting Eto’o go, given the Cameroonian scored three goals in two years while out on loan at Leganes and Espanyol.

But Los Blancos would be made to regret the decision once Eto’o found his feet at Mallorca. He thrived at Barcelona, winning three league titles, three domestic cups and two Champions Leagues.

Even now, at the ripe old age of 36, he’s still scoring at just over a goal every other game in Turkey.



Andriy Shevchenko

Sheva’s first campaign with Dynamo Kyiv couldn’t have gone much worse.

The Ukrainian only managed to score one goal, all the more impressive given he was playing in a championship winning side.

Whatever Shevchenko did in the off season worked a treat as he scored 59 goals in his next four seasons to earn a move to Milan.



Dennis Bergkamp

The non-flying Dutchman was also the non-scoring Dutchman during his first two seasons with Ajax, which accounted for seven goals.

In fairness he was never the most prolific striker, only scoring more than 20 league goals on three occasions during his career- never with Inter or Arsenal.

But who needs 20 plus goals when you’ve got the first touch of an angel?



Fernando Torres 

Torres started his Atletico Madrid career in the second division of Spanish football.

While collectively it was a successful period, with Atletico winning promotion back to the top flight in Torres’ second year, individually it wasn’t his best spell.

Seven goals in two campaigns didn’t give much of an indication that he’d go on to play 110 times for Spain and score in two European Championship finals.



Sergio Aguero

Torres’ exit to Liverpool opened the door for Aguero to prove he had more than just potential at Atletico.

Aguero’s first three seasons at Independiente had resulted in five goals, while his first season at Atletico saw him score six times, so the jury was very much still out.

But he filled Torres’ shoes with aplomb, scoring 19 league goals, and hasn’t failed to hit double figures since.