As Liverpool fans, we’re lucky to have seen some outstanding goalscorers, which makes it more difficult (and probably more controversial) to try and pick our greatest number 9’s.
In choosing the top 5, I’ve looked for the most dangerous, the most instinctive and the most prolific, and in the spirit of provoking debate, I’m starting with a controversial choice:
Number 5: Fernando Torres (2007-2011, goals to games ratio = a goal every 0.64 games)
Everyone knows the circumstances in which Torres left the club, and some fans, despite the state the club was in at the time, will never forgive him for ‘ditching’ Liverpool and joining Chelsea in 2011. However, whatever you think of the manner in which he left, you simply can’t get away from the fact that Torres played some of the best football of his career at Liverpool, and has the best goals to games ratio of my top 5. His pace was electric, his understanding and link-up play with Gerrard was lethal and he scored some truly spectacular goals in amongst his total haul. Put simply, at times during his tenure with Liverpool, Torres was the best striker in the world, and played to a level that earns him a place amongst this list.
Number 4: Gordon Hodgson (1925-1936, goals to games ratio = a goal every 0.63 games)
Many older Reds would campaign for the inclusion of Billy Liddell on this list, an undoubted legend who weighed in with goal after goal in the post-war years. However, Liddell was really a winger and an inside forward rather than a traditional number 9, and in fact Liverpool’s all time leading scorer during Liddell’s years at the club remained Gordon Hodgson, a South African-born striker who remains to this day the striker who has scored the most hat-tricks for Liverpool; an amazing 17 hat-tricks in 11 years. He served the club during a period when Everton and Dixie Dean were the dominant force, and made sure that Kopites of the time still had something to cheer when the earache from the other half of Merseyside became too much to bear.
Number 3: Robbie Fowler (1993-2001 and 2006-2007, goals to games ratio = a goal every 0.5 games)
A striker so good, he earned the nickname ‘God’. Probably the most natural and instinctive finisher on this list, and when you look at the other names on here, that’s no mean achievement. He admits himself that from an early age, he had a talent for knowing exactly the right place to be at the right time, which is the classic quality for any number 9. Breaking into the first team at just 18, he scored five goals in just his second first team appearance, announcing his arrival in style. Scorer of the fastest hat-trick in Liverpool history, and managing more than 30 goals a season for three consecutive seasons in the 1990’s, Fowler’s pedigree is unquestioned. And on top of all of that, he remains a public and proud supporter to this day. God-like indeed.
Liverpool’s all-time leading scorer for decades, and a World Cup winning striker, Roger Hunt set the path that Liverpool’s modern day number 9’s would follow. Even though Hunt didn’t actually physically wear the number 9 shirt all that often during his time with Liverpool, I’ve included him here because his style of play and his prolific goal record means that he counts as a ‘number 9’ in all but name. Hunt has still scored more league goals than any other Liverpool striker, and his poacher’s instincts saw many classic moments under the watchful eye of Bill Shankly. Commenting on Hunt’s instinctive ability as a striker, Shanks himself is famous for declaring that:
“Yes, Roger Hunt misses a few, but he still gets in the right place to miss them”
Number 1: Ian Rush (1980-1987 and 1988-1996, goals to games ratio = a goal every 0.52 games)
The greatest of them all, and one of the greatest number 9’s in the history of English football. After a slow and nervy start at Liverpool, Rush established himself in the team and weighed in with goal after goal. In six seasons from 1981/82 onwards, Rush failed to reach the 30 goal mark only once, scoring 26 in 1984/85. Forging an incredible partnership with Liverpool’s greatest ever player, Kenny Dalglish, as his strike partner, Rush’s pace, instinctive positioning on the shoulder of the last defender and his amazing knack of scoring against Everton made him a legend with Reds fans everywhere. After a brief misadventure in Italy with Juventus, Rush returned to Liverpool a year later and was straight back in the old routine, breaking Everton’s hearts in the 1989 FA Cup Final with two goals that made sure the ribbon on the trophy stayed Red rather than Blue.
And there we have it, the top five. With apologies to John Aldridge, Billy Liddell, Michael Owen and Sean Dundee (not really), those are the number 9’s that I’ve chosen. Feel free to agree or disagree, after all – it’s all about opinions….
Find me on twitter @rossco1981
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