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European qualifying's all-time top scorers

Published: Monday 10 February 2014, 8.05CET profiles the top five scorers in UEFA European Championship qualifying history, from a raging bull to a towering dinosaur via an acrobatic Irishman.

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Published: Monday 10 February 2014, 8.05CET

European qualifying's all-time top scorers profiles the top five scorers in UEFA European Championship qualifying history, from a raging bull to a towering dinosaur via an acrobatic Irishman.

There have been thousands of goals registered in UEFA European Championship qualifying down the years but surprisingly few players have managed to dominate the scoring charts over a sustained period. David Healy mustered a record 13 in Northern Ireland's UEFA EURO 2008 campaign, but that is the sum of his efforts in the competition. A few, though, have contributed more goals than most – profiles the top five.

Jon Dahl Tomasson (Denmark) – 19 goals, 24 games (1998–2007)
Tomasson netted ten times in 31 FIFA World Cup qualifiers but the UEFA European Championship brought the best out of him. A deep-lying forward, he never went more than two qualifiers without a goal and a run of six in five outings hauled Denmark into the lineup for UEFA EURO 2000, including the winner as his side came from 2-0 down to claim a requisite victory against Italy in their final group game. He also notched five en route to UEFA EURO 2004, though his eight qualifying goals were not enough four years later. "I always had an enormous drive to succeed and I think I got everything possible from my career," he said upon retiring. "I could not have been better."

Hakan Şükür (Turkey) – 19 goals, 31 games (1994–2007)
For over two decades the man known outside Turkey as the Bull of the Bosporus charged around Europe (and beyond), claiming records and national adoration. Such was his popularity, his wedding was televised live. Galatasaray AŞ's all-time leading marksman and the top Turkish scorer in European club competition, he accumulated more goals in the Turkish top flight than any other player and in 2002 hit the fastest goal seen at a World Cup – inside 11 seconds. He was in the side that reached the last eight at UEFA EURO 2000 and was always among the goals, rifling in four in one qualifier against Moldova in 2006. He was 35 at the time.

Raúl González (Spain) – 18 goals, 20 games (1998–2006)
"When he plays, in his mind there is only the goal," Thierry Henry once mused. "It's the essence of his game." The stats certainly back that up. Raúl remains the top scorer in UEFA club competition and is the 323-goal all-time leading marksman at Real Madrid CF, where he won everything on offer several times over. Trophies eluded him at international level but not goals; even by his high standards, 18 in 20 UEFA European Championship qualifiers was prolific. Eleven came in UEFA EURO 2000 qualification as he outgunned his striking peers. However, he managed just one in seven outings at the finals of 2000 and 2004, and was out of favour by UEFA EURO 2008.

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Koller celebrates in 2004

Jan Koller (Czech Republic) – 18 goals, 25 games (1999–2007)
Standing at 2.02m, Koller started out as a goalkeeper before his aerial ability was put to use at the other end – his Czech record haul of 55 international goals suggests he made the right decision. The UEFA European Championship seemed to bring the best out of Dino (short for dinosaur, a sobriquet his height earned him as a youth player). His six goals per qualifying campaign helped the Czech Republic maintain their perfect record in the competition post-independence, getting to the final tournaments in 2000, 2004 and 2008. All this from a man did not make his national-team debut until he was 25.

Robbie Keane (Republic of Ireland) – 18 goals, 35 games (1998–)
Only four European players – Ferenc Puskás, Sándor Kocsis, Gerd Müller and Miroslav Klose – have amassed more international goals than Keane. He debuted for Ireland at 17, when a team-mate and inspiration made a prescient prediction. "When I first came into the Ireland squad, Niall Quinn said to me I would get 50 goals, so it's probably down to him," Keane said as he passed his half-century of strikes in 2011 in a UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier. The showpiece in Poland and Ukraine remains Keane's sole continental finals, his endeavours coming for a team who often found wins hard to come by – but not goals and the acrobatic celebrations that almost always followed.

Closing fast …
Miroslav Klose (Germany) – 16 goals, 23 games
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) – 15 goals, 21 games

*Statistics accurate at the start of UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying

Last updated: 13/02/14 11.36CET

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