Top 50

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.

Tournaments:

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


Years:

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.

Exclusions:

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.

Weightings:

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.

Format:

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.

Links:

50-41
40-31
30-21
20-11
10-6
5-1
Findings and Top 200

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 lpcorbett@hotmail.com

Thanks,

Liam

15 comments:

  1. Rodolfo B (Paraguay)6 February 2013 11:33

    Great work amd great list! Among the big games the Intercontinental Cup and FIFA Club World Cup should also be considered. The relevance given to those games in South America made the goal scorers almost legends in their teams. The Supercopa Sudamericana (1988 until 1997) and the Copa Sudamericana (since 2002) have at least the same value as the Europa League and the Cups Winners Cup.

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  2. Not as good as Miguel Delaney's here: http://eircomsports.eircom.net/News/greatest-big-game-scorer.aspx

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  3. No Steven Gerrard?

    According to your weightings he has 18 points, having socred in the 3 world cup group stage matches, a champions laegue final a uefa final and a euro championship finals group match

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    1. He probably means the second group stages. As it was in '82.

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  4. Where is Miroslav Klose?
    14 goals in World Cup group stages/round of 16/quarter finals
    2 goals in European Championship quarter finals
    1 goal in European Championship semi finals
    That's 57 points! - Making him no.1

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  5. It's not the group stages, it's the final group stages - 1950, 1974 and 1978 World Cups. And Euro 1980. Cheers

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  6. Delaney is a hack. Great work Liam. Weighting IS important.

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    Replies
    1. Delaney is an excellent journalist. Liam's work is good but, for all your talk of weightings, he hasn't weighted when goals come, whether they're important etc. Delaney's does.

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    2. Yeah, and that was an important consideration that I've taken into account in other pieces such as the Lampard vs Gerrard comparison. However, due to the size of the data and range of this data, I wasn't able to

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    3. I'd also agree that Delaney is an excellent author. I always enjoy his stuff, though these two comparisons are looking at different measurements. I believe this one covers more games as well - based on the names I've seen in Miguel's piece.

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  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  8. Cheers. Maradona is a bit outside the top 50. He had three goals that qualify - two in the '86 Semi Final, and one in the 1989 UEFA cup final for Napoli

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  9. No points for World Cup 3rd and 4th place play-off, which occurs after the semi-final?

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  10. This is very interesting, but where is Maradonna?
    Didn't he crack to top 50?

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  11. Liam, I feel you should have included the final of the World Club Championship in this. Messi has scored twice in it and the tournament is becoming more and more prestigious. Great work though, thanks!

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