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The 12 European Championship Top Scorers Of All Time

The 12 European Championship Top Scorers Of All Time

Some outstanding teams have played at the UEFA European Championship throughout the history of the competition. From the "tiki taka" Vicente del Bosque Spain side that won consecutive trophies at Euro 2008 and Euro 2012, to the scintillating 1988 Dutch team starring Marco van Basten, Frank Rijkaard, Ruud Gullit and Ronald Koeman, the Euros are regularly lit up by world-class team performances.

But any team with serious ambitions in this tournament will need to be able to rely on a supremely talented individual at the top of the pitch. Elite-level goalscorers are hard to come by in football, but at the European Championship there have been plenty of them over the years. This article will examine the very best, listing the European Championship all time top scorers and running you through a guide to the players that have topped the goalscoring charts at every single edition of the tournament.

A Brief History of the UEFA European Championship

Europe's premier international football contest is the second-most watched football tournament in the world, beaten only by the FIFA World Cup (no surprises there). The competition brings together massive footballing nations like England, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands in a high-stakes knockout tournament that takes place every four years. 

The concept for the tournament was initially proposed by UEFA's first general secretary Henry Delaunay in the 1920s, but it wasn't until 1958 that the decision to create a formal continental cup competition for national teams was agreed upon. The first edition of the tournament took place in 1960; after extensive qualifying rounds, it was staged in France that July, with four teams competing (France, Czechoslovakia, the USSR and Yugoslavia). Today, only having four teams in the European Championship Finals may seem bizarre, but it was the norm until 1980, when the tournament was expanded to eight teams.

Host nations initially had to qualify for the Euros, but 1976 was the last year in which this was the case, and the last season before group stages were introduced. The new format saw two groups of four battle it out, with the winners of each group then facing up to each other in the final. When the Euros were expanded to 16 teams in Euro 1996, quarter-finals and semi-finals were introduced, while the expansion for 24 teams for the 2016 edition of the tournament (hosted by France) led to the introduction of a rule by which the best-performing third-place sides in the group stages would squeeze through to the knockouts. If it wasn't for this rule, Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal side would not have won Euro 2016.

European Championship Top Scorers: Every Single Golden Boot Winner

Below, you'll find a list of the European Championship top scorers in every edition of the tournament since it was first created as the European Nations' Cup in 1960. It's worth noting that in the early years of the competition, it was a very basic four-team knockout with semi-finals and a final, hence the low-scoring numbers. After 1980, eight teams were involved (this later increased to 16 and then 24), and so the stats started to become more impressive.

Year Player Country Goals
1960 Francois Heutte France 2
  Viktor Ponedelnik USSR 2
  Drazan Jerkovic Yugoslavia 2
  Milan Galic Yugoslavia 2
1964 Jesus Maria Pereda Spain 2
  Ferenc Bene Hungary 2
  Deszo Novak Hungary 2
1968 Dragan Dzajic Yugoslavia 2
1972 Gerd Muller West Germany 4
1976 Gerd Muller West Germany 4
1980 Klaus Allofs West Germany 4
1984 Michel Platini France 9
1988 Marco van Basten Netherlands 5
1992 Henrik Larsen Denmark 3
  Karl-Heinz Riedle  Germany 3
  Dennis Bergkamp Netherlands 3
  Tomas Brolin Sweden 3
1996 Alan Shearer England 5
2000 Patrick Kluivert Netherlands 5
  Savo Milosevic Yugoslavia 5
2004 Milan Baros Czech Republic 5
2008 David Villa Spain 4
2012 Fernando Torres Spain 3
  Alan Dzagoev Russia 3
  Mario Gomez Germany 3
  Mario Mandzukic Croatia 3
  Mario Balotelli Italy 3
  Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal 3
2016 Antoine Griezmann France 6
2020 Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal 5
  Patrick Schick Czech Republic 5


European Championship All Time Top Scorers: The Top 12

There are four top forwards who have separated themselves from the pack when it comes to the top scorers at the European Championships; however, after that there are a huge amount of players tied on the same number of goals. Below are the top 12 all time top scorers at the Euros.

#12. Ruud van Nistelrooy (6 goals)

The Netherlands have produced plenty of great forwards over the years, from the architect of Total Football Johan Cruyff to AC Milan legend Marco van Basten. Ruud van Nistelrooy is up with the best of them, and his six goals at the Euros pull him level with some elite names in world football.

#11. Wayne Rooney (6 goals)

Rooney burst onto the scene at Euro 2004, stunning fans across the globe with his intelligence, movement, physical power and beautiful striking ability. He grabbed four goals in that tournament, but never quite replicated those performance levels at the Euros, only scoring once at both Euro 2012 and Euro 2016, his final tournament for England.

#10. Nuno Gomes (6 goals)

Experienced Portugal and Benfica forward Nuno Gomes racked up 29 goals in 79 appearances for his country, a strong record that included six goals at the European Championships (although he struggled to replicate that form during Portugal's World Cup campaigns).

#9. Romelu Lukaku (6 goals)  

Part of a so-called 'Golden Generation' alongside Kevin De Bruyne, Vincent Kompany, and Eden Hazard (to name a few), Romelu Lukaku has been an integral part of Belgium's men's team in recent years. Despite the side's disappointing performances at international tournaments, Lukaku has contributed a whopping 83 goals in 116 games for his national team, including six at the Euros.

#8. Patrick Kluivert (6 goals)

Another top forward tied on 6 Euros goals, Patrick Kluivert was part of Ajax and Netherlands' star-studded teams of the 1990s alongside the likes of Edgar Davids, Clarence Seedorf and Edwin van der Sar. He got five of his six goals at the European Championship during the 2000 edition of the tournament, where he was also named in the UEFA Team of the Tournament.

#7. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (6 goals)

One of Sweden's greatest players of all time, Ibrahimovic enjoyed over two decades at the top of world football before his retirement last year. As well as dazzling for clubs like AC Milan, Paris Saint-Germain, Internazionale, and Ajax, he bagged plenty of goals for his country including six at the Euros (representing Sweden at Euro 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016).

#6. Thierry Henry (6 goals)

A World Cup winner with France in 1998 and a European Championship winner in 2000, Thierry Henry was part of the iconic French team of the late 1990s and early 2000s that was dubbed 'Les Bleus'. The skillful, dynamic and lethal forward notched six Euros goals in total.

#5. Alvaro Morata (6 goals)

Morata isn't generally considered in the same league as the likes of Henry, Kluivert or Ibrahimovic, but he's consistently showed up on the international stage for Spain, and is the eighth player to be tied on six goals in total during European Championships.

#3. Alan Shearer (7 goals)

Finally, we leap up to the seven goal-mark, reached by two iconic players with highly impressive individual stats. Shearer is the Premier League's all-time leading goalscorer with 260 goals in 441 appearances, and he was also prolific at international level, registering 30 goals in 63 caps for England. Five of those came at Euro 96, a home tournament for England that saw Shearer at the peak of his powers.

#3. Antoine Griezmann (7 goals)

One of the few players on this list still playing at the top of the game today, Griezmann is a French football icon who played a pivotal role in their 2018 World Cup win and their run to the final of both Euro 2016 and the 2022 World Cup. The silky, intelligent Atletico Madrid forward is France's fifth-most capped player and fourth-highest-goalscorer, thanks in part to his scoring exploits at Euro 2016 (where he bagged six to claim the Golden Boot).

#2. Michel Platini (9 goals)

Legendary French attacking midfielder Michel Platini has the record for the most goals scored in a single Euros, registering a remarkable nine goals at Euro 84. Surprisingly, this was the only Finals he played at, as France failed to qualify for Euro 1980 and he retired in 1987, meaning he was unable to add to his tally. There's no shame in that, though — to this day, only one player has scored more than his 9 goals at the European Championships.

#1.  Cristiano Ronaldo (14 goals)

When Cristiano Ronaldo helped lead Portugal to glory at Euro 2016, it was a landmark moment in his career. CR7 was at the peak of his powers, banging in goals at Real Madrid and dragging his team across the finish line on the international stage. His goals at that tournament also pulled him level with Platini's all-time record, before a further five goals at Euro 2020 took Ronaldo well clear at the top of the list of European Championship all time top scorers. He's the all-time leading goalscorer in men's international football, and given that he has featured at a record five European Championship tournaments, it's no surprise Ronaldo has bagged tons in this competition.