Jump directly to the content

News Corp is a network of leading companies in the worlds of diversified media, news, education, and information services.

DREAM TEAM

Your Sun

A News UK Company
TOP
(AND UEFA CUP)

The good, the bad and the ugly of Europa League top scorers since 2000

Some of the best strikers to play the modern game have graced the Europa League. So have some of the most average...

The artist formerly known as the UEFA Cup is a weird place.

It begins in June when the likes of Connah’s Quay Nomads play off against Admira Wacker Modling and ends nearly a year later when the cream of European football meet in the final.

A vintage year for the UEFA Cup

9
A vintage year for the UEFA Cup

The pure length and breadth of the competition- it would take 23 games to go from the first round to the final- is a striker’s delight.

That, coupled with the fact that managers often play their second string in the Europa League, means the top scorer award becomes something of a lottery every year.

We’ve limited our look back to 2000, since the Millennium Bug deleted all records before.

‘But how are we going to know who was UEFA Cup top scorer in 1997 now?’

9
‘But how are we going to know who was UEFA Cup top scorer in 1997 now?’

Dimitar Berbatov (2001)

Liverpool fans will remember the 2000/01 UEFA Cup for Liverpool’s bizarre 5-4 extra-time win against Alaves in the final.

But for the rest of the world, outside of Bulgaria, it was a first chance to see Berbatov stroll around, caressing the ball into the back of the net.

The CSKA Sofia striker helped himself to seven goals in the qualifying round but didn’t make it past the first round after losing to Hungarian side MTK.

He still impressed enough to earn a move to Bayer Leverkusen in January of 2001.

Look into a young Dimitar’s eyes for long enough and he’ll hypnotise you into speaking Bulgarian

9
Look into a young Dimitar’s eyes for long enough and he’ll hypnotise you into speaking Bulgarian

Sonny Anderson (2004)

Anderson’s powers were on the wane when he turned up to play for Villarreal at the age of 33.

The Brazilian, who won six caps despite having to compete for an international spot with Ronaldo and Adriano amongst others, scored seven goals as El Submarino Amarillo got all the way to the semi-finals, where they lost to Valencia.

He outscored a stellar cast of strikers, including Mateja Kezman, Didier Drogba, Alan Shearer and Nuno Gomes, on the way to picking up the golden boot.

Then, having helped Villarreal win the Intertoto Cup, he rode off into the sunset to finish his career in Qatar.

Yellow suits you, Sonny

9
Yellow suits you, Sonny

Alan Shearer (2005)

England’s participants in the 2004/05 UEFA Cup campaign were Milwall, Newcastle, Middlesbrough, although only the boys from the North-East made it to the group stages.

Shearer crushed all before him, scoring 11 goals at a rate of one every 70 minutes, aided by five goals from team-mate Patrick Kluivert.

Imagine having to go from watching Shearer and Kluivert to Dwight Gayle and Daryl Murphy.

The Toon Army made it to the quarter-finals before losing to losing finalists Sporting Lisbon Clube de Portugal.

Lovely strike partnership, horrible kit

9
Lovely strike partnership, horrible kit

Pavel Pogrebnyak/Luca Toni (2008)

Despite Henrik Larsson, Sergio Aguero, Miroslav Klose, Adrian Mutu and Berbatov all playing in the 2007/08 instalment, it was a lanky Russian, Pogrebnyak, and an ageing Italian, Toni, who finished as top scorers, with ten goals apiece.

Toni’s tally came in two less games, including a surreal match in which Bayern Munich travelled to Aberdeen, before losing to Pogrebynak’s Zenit in the semi-final.

The Russian striker missed the final because of suspension as Zenit beat Rangers 2-0.

Hopefully he more than made up for that by turning out for Reading in the Championship. Nothing beats an away trip to Rotherham United on a Tuesday evening.

Toni getting used to Scottish hospitality

9
Toni getting used to Scottish hospitality

Vagner Love (2009)

When your second name is Love and you’ve got blue hair you better be decent.

Luckily Vagner Silva de Souza, aka Vagner Love, was as proficient in front of goal as he was in the bedroom (hence the name).

The Brazilian scored 11 goals, which is all the more impressive when you take into account CSKA Moscow didn’t make it past the round of 16.

Love standing next to Lionel Messi’s favourite player

9
Love standing next to Lionel Messi’s favourite player

Radamel Falcao (2011)

Let’s cut straight to the chase. In 2011 Falcao scored 17 goals for Porto during their Europa League victory. Seventeen. Goals.

It’s the highest total of any player in UEFA Cup or Europa League history. Seventeen. F******. Goals.

Falcao moved to Atletico Madrid off the back of the tournament and top scored in the next Europa League with 12 goals.

Twenty-nine goals in two Europa League campaigns. And to think we doubted him when he came to England.

Why don’t more footballers play in cowboy hats?

9
Why don’t more footballers play in cowboy hats?

Libor Kozak (2013)

Kozak outscored Edinson Cavani, Fernando Torres and Samuel Eto’o with eight goals when playing for Lazio during the 2012/13 Europa League, but the golden boot proved something of a poisoned chalice for the Czech’s career.

Since moving to Aston Villa the 27-year-old has scored four goals in four seasons, and none in three years.

He hasn’t been helped by a broken leg which ruled him out for more than a year, while an ankle injury ended his career in February.

Still, he only needs to look at Falcao for inspiration on how to recover from serious injury.

9
DREAM TEAM COMEDY: If Premier League clubs went to Parents' Evening