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Wednesday 19 March 2014

Up in the air: A celebration of headed goals

Who have been the best in the air in the Barclays Premier League? You can vote in our poll

Didier Drogba is renowned for his heading ability so it is no surprise he features in this montage of classic headed goals in the BPL.

There is something quintessentially British about goals with headers.

The first goal in the history of the Barclays Premier League was scored with a header – Brian Deane for Sheffield United against Manchester United on 15 August 1992 – and there is something about forwards flying in with their heads to send the ball rocketing into the roof of the net that stirs crowds in the competition.

However, such goals would appear to be on the wane. This season so far there have been on average fewer than four headed shots per match in the Barclays Premier League, the lowest since data suppliers Opta started compiling such data 11 seasons ago.

The percentage of goals scored by headers (15%) is also heading towards a low in the past 11 seasons, so to celebrate this form of football we are focusing on who have been the most successful headers of the ball in the history of the Barclays Premier League, players and teams.

Alan Shearer leads the way as the player with the most headed goals but Stoke City's Peter Crouch is only four behind the former Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United striker.

Table 1: Most headed goals all-time - player (Top 10)

Player   HEADED GOALS
Alan Shearer 46
Dion Dublin
45
Peter Crouch
42
Les Ferdinand
40
Dwight Yorke
38
Teddy Sheringham
36
Duncan Ferguson
36
Tim Cahill
31
Robbie Fowler
28
Andrew Cole
27

Crouch is the only active player in the top 10, although Chelsea captain John Terry and Cardiff City striker Kenwyne Jones are close to muscling their way in.

Table 2: Most headed goals from active players (Top 10)

Player Headed goals
Peter Crouch
42
John Terry
25
Kenwyne Jones 22
Emmanuel Adebayor 20
Darren Bent
18
Wayne Rooney 17
Gabriel Agbonlahor 16
Frank Lampard 15
Fernando Torres 15
Steven Fletcher
14

They may have been the first team to have conceded a headed goal in the Barclays Premier League but Manchester United lead the way in terms of clubs to have scored the most by this means. One of the most famous headed goals was that by United captain Steve Bruce in stoppage time against Sheffield Wednesday that steered United to their first Barclays Premier League title in 1992/93.

Table 3: Most headed goals all-time - team

Club Headed goals
Manchester United 272
Everton 246
Chelsea 245
Aston Villa 216
Tottenham Hotspur 210
Arsenal 194
Newcastle United 193
Liverpool 193
Blackburn Rovers 175
Southampton 144

One of the most fearsome players to attack the ball with his head was former Everton and Newcastle United forward Duncan Ferguson, who combined aerial and physical domination with the bravery to put his head where some feared placing their boots. 'Big Dunc' leads the way with the most headed goals scored by a player in a Barclays Premier League season.

Table 4: Most headed goals in a season - player

Season Player Club Headed goals
1997/1998 Duncan Ferguson
Everton 9
1999/2000 Dwight Yorke Man Utd 8
1995/1996 Dwight Yorke Aston Villa 8
1995/1996 Dion Dublin
Coventry City 8
2007/2008 Roque Santa Cruz Blackburn Rovers 8
1992/1993 Paul Wilkinson
Middlesbrough 7
1994/1995 Paul Rideout
Everton 7
2011/2012 Steven Fletcher Sunderland 7
1995/1996 Les Ferdinand
Newcastle United 7
2008/2009 Peter Crouch
Portsmouth 7
2009/2010 Tim Cahill
Everton 7
1992/1993 Les Ferdinand
QPR 7
1992/1993 Teddy Sheringham
Tottenham Hotspur 7
1996/1997 Dion Dublin
Coventry City 7

One of the teams in the history of the Barclays Premier League most renowned for seeking to exploit their aerial strengths were Wimbledon. The 'Crazy Gang' lead the way as the team to have scored the most headed goals in a season. Of their 55 goals in the league, almost two-fifths, 22, came from headers.

Table 5: Most headed goals in a season - club

Season Club Headed goals
 1995/1996 Wimbledon 22
 1999/2000 Newcastle United 19
 1992/1993 Manchester City 18
 1993/1994 Wimbledon 18
 2010/2011 Manchester United 18
 1992/1993 Oldham Athletic 18
 1992/1993 Crystal Palace 18
 1994/1995 Everton 18
 1993/1994 Sheffield Wednesday 17
 1999/2000 Aston Villa 17
 1995/1996 Aston Villa 17
 1994/1995 Aston Villa 17

You can vote for the attacking player who was the best all-time header of the ball in our poll on the bottom of the home page. Was the bravery of Duncan Ferguson, who has the record for the most headed goals in a season, better than Alan Shearer's weight of numbers as the all-time leading scorer of headers? Or was Tim Cahill's defying of gravity and his relatively small height more worthy? You decide.

This will be followed by a poll looking at the aerial ability of forwards currently in the Barclays Premier League. Is either Aston Villa's Christian Benteke or Peter Crouch, of Stoke City, the best header because of his height, or is Daniel Sturridge's ability to steal in front of his marker and direct glancing headers into the net more meritable?

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Key Points

  • Premierleague.com celebrates the headed goal with a look at some stats
  • Alan Shearer, the leading scorer in the Barclays Premier League, also leads the way with headed goals
  • Users of premierleague.com have the chance to vote for their favourite goalscorer of headers