Monday, 6 August 2012

The Top 50 Big Game Scorers of All Time

When I started this site, it was with the aim of separating the Big Game Players from the Flat Track Bullies as I couldn’t find it recorded anywhere else on the Internet. By tracking the average ranked opponent that a player scores against and tracking the range (Top 6/Middle 8/Bottom 6) I’ve been able to to determine this, but it’s limited when looking at tournament football when there’s no league ranking. That’s where my system is flawed.

Until now. Sort of.

In an attempt to sort out the ultimate Big Game Scorers, I’ve researched what I regard as the biggest and hardest tournaments in the history of World Football to find out who were the best scorers in the biggest games. Each goal is awarded a points weighting, and their accumulation of these points will decide where the player is ranked. I have 1071 different scorers, but have chosen the Top 50.


International: World Cup, European Championships, Copa America
Club: European Cup/Champions League, Copa Libertadores, UEFA Cup/Europa League, European Cup Winners Cup


When I say “All Time” I really mean from 1950 onwards, basically from the 1950 World Cup. So it’s the Top 50 Big Game Scorers of the modern era. So the list doesn’t include the scorers from the first three World Cups. Why? Well partly it was due to the reliability of the data, and partly for comparison purposes.


Why not include domestic cups? Well there’s a lot of countries that play football and I am but one man doing this as a hobby. One man that has just become a first time father, so time is not something that lends itself to me at the moment.

Why only South American and European tournaments? Well I was trying to pick the highest quality tournaments, and in my (possibly blinkered opinion), the other tournaments aren’t quite up to the same standard, and whilst they are still big games, the pressure and audiences are nowhere near as high. There is of course the argument about what makes up a big game – for example, Man City beating QPR to win the league was a massive game, but on paper it’s a game of 1st place at home to 17th place.


This is probably the area of the biggest discussion points. I’ve started off with the World Cup Final being the biggest game in World Football, and have awarded any goal scored in it 5 points. Dropping back a round, I take off a point for all semi-finals. So as the European Championships Final is worth 4 points, the semi final is worth 3.

The Champions League Final is worth 3 points as although it’s seen by many as the highest standard of football, it’s only European based players, and it occurs every year, meaning that the pressure is nowhere near as high as a World Cup Final that only occurs every four years.
As you can see the points change for Final Group stages. The World Cup of 1950 for example was decided on a final group table rather than the knock out stages. Similarly, the Copa America tournaments of 1989 and 1991 were also based on a final table rather than Semi Finals and a Final. The Copa Libertadores Final is rated at 2.5 instead of the European version’s 3 because of two legged finals, and quality. Each weighting was given careful consideration.

What Else?

I’ve deliberately called it the Big Game Scorers instead of Big Game Players as I’m well aware that a player can dominate a game without scoring. Unfortunately, aside from trawling through all of the man of the match records of all time, this data isn’t readily available or accurate. There’s no doubting the goalscorers – that’s fact (unless you go into the mirky waters of controversial goals – I’m looking at you Hurst), but the assists information, and non-goalscoring big game performances just aren’t possible to track.


Inspired by the awesome Football Pantheon lists (which I’d highly recommend), I’ve tried to avoid imitation but due to the nature of the list, it’s been difficult. So  the format takes place in the shape of a countdown, beginning with 50-41 and working down from there, with special focus on the Top Ten players to score in the biggest games. And at the end of it all, I’ll keep in the tradition of the site and throw some statistics in and have a quick look at those to miss out.



Any questions can be posted in the comments section of this page or the page in question, or if you’re shy then e-mail me on



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