Fierce battle for top scorer title, but past shows: it offers little guarantee

Fierce battle for top scorer title, but past shows: it offers little guarantee
Bjorn Vleminckx (NEC) celebrates his hit

NOS Football

Four young, talented players are angling for only one thing in the remaining two premier league duels: the top scorer title. For Anastasios Douvikas (23 years old), Xavi Simons (20), Syndey van Hooijdonk (23) and Santiago Giménez (22), that prize could be the starting shot of a great international career.

But it by no means offers certainty, as recent years have shown. More than once the top scorer title turned out to be the highlight of a career and then it went downhill fast with the goal scoring machine of yesteryear.

Standings top scorers premier league

# Player Club Number of goals
1. Anastasios Douvikas FC Utrecht 17
2. Xavi Simons PSV 16
Sydney van Hooijdonk sc Heerenveen 16
4. Santiago Giménez Feyenoord 15

Sixteen times. That’s how many times Douvikas, Simons, Van Hooijdonk and Giménez scored combined in the premier league prior to this season. To which may be added that Simons was still playing in France at the time and Giménez in Mexico.

It shows that the premier league top scorer can rise from nowhere. And we saw that more often since the turn of the millennium. Some top scorers turned out to be real one-hit wonders.


The most appealing example in this regard is Björn Vleminckx. Everything the brisk Belgian touched in the 2010/2011 season turned to gold. In the shirt of NEC, he shot 23 times.

It earned Vleminckx a transfer to Club Brugge, but there his production stalled. In the seven seasons the striker played in Belgium and Turkey after his NEC period, he never landed in double figures.

Like Vleminckx, there are more such one-hit wonders. Brazilian Afonso Alves was a real sensation at Heerenveen. In the 2006/07 season he made no less than 34. Against Heracles (9-0) he even scored seven goals in one game, an Eredivisie record.

Alves then left for England’s Middlesbrough, where he did not score more than six goals even in a full season.

Björn Vleminckx: phenomenon at NEC in 2010/11

And what about Alfred Finnbogason? The Icelander shot sharply for sc Heerenveen, scoring 29 goals in 2013/14. He later scored another 12 goals in one season in the Bundesliga for Augsburg. But now Finnbogason plays for Denmark’s Lyngby, where he has come to as many as three goals this season.

Vincent Janssen searched for goals for years, having been unstoppable as AZ’s striker in 2015/2016. Only this season at Belgian side Antwerp (seventeen goals) he is finding the net frequently again. In England, Turkey and Mexico, he never scored more than seven goals in one year.

And for Nicolai Jørgensen, the top scorer title (21 goals) and the corresponding championship in 2017 was also immediately the highlight of his career. A year later, the Dane shot 10 more goals. After that, it became a little less each year.

From Dillen and Cruijff to Machlas and Van Nistelrooij

In the last century, the premier league’s top scorer award was still reserved for the big names in Dutch soccer.

Just some of the long top scorers list: Coen Dillen, Johan Cruijff, Ove Kindvall, Willy van der Kuijlen, Ruud Geels, Marco van Basten, Romario, Dennis Bergkamp, Jari Litmanen, Ronaldo, Luc Nilis, Nikos Machlas and Ruud van Nistelrooij.

The top scorer award almost guaranteed a successful international career last century. So that changed around the turn of the millennium, with the aforementioned examples.

But even after the year 2000, there are plenty of great players who became top scorers of the premier league. Mateja Kezman, Pierre van Hooijdonk (Sydney’s father), Dirk Kuijt, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Luis Suárez, Memphis Depay, Dusan Tadic and Luuk de Jong, all big names and all top scorers of the premier league.

FC Utrecht striker Douvikas currently tops the premier league’s top scorer list

Long story short: whether it will be Douvikas, Simons, Van Hooijdonk junior or Giménez, the top scorer title of the premier league is really only the beginning of a potentially long and successful career. With emphasis on “possible”: the title offers no guarantee.

Kayleigh Williams