These are the best No. 9s in football history

Michael Ngabu

The number 9 jersey is one of the most prestigious positions in football.

While several players have worn it, a few exceptional stars have changed the game forever.

We’ve compiled a list of the best No. 9s in football history and their contributions to the football world.

In creating this list, we checked their heroics both at club and international levels which include goal socred, assists provided, and trophies won.

1. Ronaldo Nazario

Ronaldo Nazario is a legend in his home country and worldwide.
Ronaldo Nazario is a legend in his home country and worldwide. Image: X/BolaTemplo23

Ronaldo Nazario, famously known as R9, is among football’s most recognizable No. 9s. The former Brazilian striker is a legend in his home country and worldwide.

Ronaldo played for Cruzeiro, PSV, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, AC Milan, and Corinthians at the club level.

He also made 98 appearances for Brazil’s national team, where he helped them win the 1994 and 2002 World Cups.

Ronaldo is considered by many to be one of the best No. 9 of all time.

His incredible ability to find the net earned him the nickname O Fenomeno (The Phenomenon), and he lived up to the moniker with over 400 career goals.

2. Thierry Henry

Thierry Henry played for top clubs worldwide.
Thierry Henry played for top clubs worldwide. Image: Twitter/ KHA CHI

Thierry Henry may not have preferred the No. 9 jersey, but he often played as a central striker. Therefore, the Frenchman also ranks among the best No. 9s in football history.

Henry played for top clubs worldwide, including Monaco, Juventus, Arsenal, Barcelona, and New York Red Bulls. He also earned over 100 caps with France and was part of the 1998 World Cup-winning team.

As a striker, Henry was physically dominant, incredibly fast, and had amazing dribbling and ball-control skills.

He scored over 400 career goals (360 for clubs and 51 for France) and is fondly remembered for being Arsenal’s all-time leading goal scorer with 228 goals.

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3. Marco van Basten

Marco van Basten was nicknamed the Swan Of Utrecht.
Marco van Basten was nicknamed the Swan Of Utrecht. Image: X/LazerModric

Marcel “Marco” van Basten is a former Dutch footballer considered one of the best strikers in Dutch football’s history.

He was nicknamed the Swan Of Utrecht because of his elegance with the ball and his tendency to score acrobatic goals.

Van Basten played for only two clubs during his senior career: Ajax and AC Milan. He appeared 58 times for the Netherlands at the international level and scored 24 goals.

During his career, he scored over 300 career goals and won three Ballon d’Or awards. What makes him a sensational No.9 is that he did not reach his full potential as he retired at 28 due to an ankle injury.

4. Gerd Muller

Gerd Muller scored 654 goals.
Gerd Muller scored 654 goals. Image: X/AnEgyss

Gerd Muller was a legendary striker who dominated the football scenes in the 1970s and 80s.

 A German national who represented West Germany, he is famously remembered for scoring the 1974 World Cup-winning goal.

Muller played for 181 N6ördlingen, Bayern Munich, and Fort Lauderdale Strikers at the club level.

He scored 654 goals (in 716 club appearances), including 563 in the Bundesliga, and is still the league’s leading goal-scorer today. Muller is among the best No. 9s of all time.

He was an opportunistic striker who was very clinical with his finishing; his 68 goals for West Germany in 62 appearances are a true testament to his goal-scoring abilities.

5. Gabriel Batistuta

Gabriel Batistuta was active between 1988 and 2004.
Gabriel Batistuta was active between 1988 and 2004. Image: X/gametime1886

Gabriel Batistuta is a former Argentinian who was active between 1988 and 2004.

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He is considered one of the best Argentine strikers of all time and is held in the same regard as other top forwards, such as Brazil’s Ronaldo.

During his career, Batistuta played for clubs like Newell’s Old Boys, River Plate, Boca Junior, Fiorentina, As Roma, Inter Milan, and Al-Arabi. He also earned 78 caps playing for the Argentinian national team.

Batistuta’s goal-scoring abilities made him one of the best No. 9s; he scored over 300 career goals (297 for the club and 56 for the country).

He holds the record as Serie A’s 13th most prolific goal scorer with 183 goals.

6. Alan Shearer

Alan Shearer
Alan Shearer played between 1988 and 2006.

Alan Shearer is a former English footballer who played between 1988 and 2006. He was a prolific goal-scorer who always found the net thanks to his physical strength, powerful shots, and heading ability.

Shearer played for Southampton, Blackburn Rovers, and New Castle United at the club level, scoring 379 goals in 734 appearances. He also made 63 appearances for England, scoring 30 goals.

Certainly, Alan Shearer is among the best No. 9s ever to grace the English Premier League. He still holds the record for being the Premier League’s all-time goal scorer with 260 goals.

7. Robert Lewandowski

Robert Lewandowski is a Polish footballer.
Robert Lewandowski is a Polish footballer. Image: X/brfootball

Robert Lewandowski is a Polish footballer who plays for the La Liga club Barcelona. He is one of the best No. 9s in football who are currently active.

In addition to Barcelona, Lewandowski has played for Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Lech Poznań, Znicz Pruszków, Legia Warsaw, and Delta Warsaw. He is a prolific striker who has scored over 600 career goals.

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Robert Lewandowski’s legend as a No. 9 is unmatched. He was the first player to score over 40 goals in a single Bundesliga season.

He made headlines in 2015, scoring five goals in nine minutes after coming on as a substitute.

8. George Weah

George Weah was active in the 1980s and 90s.
George Weah was active in the 1980s and 90s. Image: Instagram/ george_weah_official

George Weah is a former Liberian footballer active in the 1980s and 90s. Dubbed “King George” because of his incredible football skills, he is considered one of the most iconic African footballers.

At the club level, Weah appeared for Mighty Barolle, Incredible Eleven, Tonnerre Yaoundé, AS Monaco, PSG, AC Milan, Chelsea, Marseille, Manchester City, and Al Jazira.

He scored a total of 194 goals during his club career.

George Weah is one of the best No. 9s out of Africa. One of his most impressive accomplishments was being the first African to win the Ballon d’Or.

9. Miroslav Klose

Miroslav Klose was active in the 2000s and 2010s.
Miroslav Klose was active in the 2000s and 2010s. Image: X/estandola

Miroslav Klose is a Polish-born German footballer active in the 2000s and 2010s. Despite being born in Poland, Klose opted to represent Germany internationally.

Klose played for FC Homburg, FC Kaiserslautern, Werder Bremen, Bayern Munich, and Lazio at the club level. He was an incredible striker who scored over 300 career goals – 256 club goals and 71 international goals.

Klose’s legend as a No.9 was most noticeable at the World Cup, where his goal-scoring abilities made him a dangerous opponent.

He holds the current World Cup record for being an all-time top scorer with 16 goals.

10. Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan Ibrahimovic netted over 500 career goals.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic netted over 500 career goals. Image: Instagram/iamzlatanibrahimovic

Zlatan Ibrahimovic may be one of the most controversial footballers, but he still makes it to the list of the best No. 9s in football history.

The former Swedish footballer left a mark in football as one of the most dominant and rare pure number 9s.

Ibrahimovic played for Malmo FF, Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan, PSG, and LA Galaxy at the club level. He also earned 122 caps with the Swedish national team.

Ibrahimovic was one of the most prolific strikers. His physical strength, aerial ability, and clinical finishing made him a threat in the forward areas.

This saw him net over 500 career goals, a milestone few players have reached.

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