The Premier League was a competition dreamt up for television. Since its inception, it has been driven by showbiz and sensationalism in equal measure. Some of its innovations were more successful than others. It was the first league to show the score and time in the top right-hand corner of your tv screen, for instance. But the pre-match cheerleaders which greeted players as they emerged from the changing rooms in the early days of the division were less of a smash hit.
One idea it borrowed from abroad was the introduction of the Golden Boot, an award given to the league’s top scorer for each season. It was a simple concept, but a wildly successful one. Nowadays, the race for the Golden Boot is as big a story as any in the Premier League.
There have been 27 winners in total. Here are their stories.
Premier League Golden Boot Winners List
1992-93) Teddy Sheringham, Tottenham Hotspur – 22 Goals
Teddy Sheringham would later join Manchester United and establish himself as one of the finest playmaking forwards of his generation. Before that though, he won the Premier League’s first Golden Boot award because of his clinical finishing, rather than his creative edge.
1993-94) Andy Cole, Newcastle United – 34 Goals
Andy Cole’s magnificent campaign in 92-93 has never been bettered in terms of goals scored. Newcastle United were a gung-ho attacking unit, and Cole thrived under such conditions. Truly, one of the Premier League’s greatest ever goalscorers.
1994-95) Alan Shearer, Blackburn Rovers – 34 Goals
Though Andy Cole’s 34-goal haul would never be bettered, Alan Shearer matched it as his Blackburn Rovers side won the league in 94-95. He feasted on crosses from Jason Wilcox on the left and Stuart Ripley on the right. His centre-forward partner, Chris Sutton, bagged a fair few too – 15, to be precise.
1995-96) Alan Shearer, Blackburn Rovers – 31 Goals
Shearer was unable to help Blackburn retain the Premier League crown in 95-96, but on a personal level, he was once again by far and away the best striker in the division. He managed 31 this time as Blackburn dropped six places to 7th in the table.
1996-97) Alan Shearer, Newcastle United – 25 Goals
By 1997, the Golden Boot had been completely monopolised by Shearer. He won it again that year, though he did it in black and white rather than blue and white. He joined Newcastle United for a world record fee and fired them to within seven points of the title. Shearer would later be reunited with ex-Rovers manager Kenny Dalglish, but that season was his last in terms of Golden Boots. He would finish his career with 260 Premier League goals, making him the top scorer in the history of the competition.
1997-98) Chris Sutton, Blackburn Rovers; Dion Dublin, Coventry City; Michael Owen, Liverpool – 18 Goals
The Premier League Golden Boot has only been shared four times in 27 years. The first such instance came in 1998. Chris Sutton, Dion Dublin and Michael Owen all scored exactly 18 goals, meaning all three had to try and cram their foot into that gold size number 10. It was vindication for the methods of Sutton and Dublin, who were both big, powerful forwards. Michael Owen was something very different, and very special, with speed and killer instinct in abundance.
1998-99) Michael Owen, Liverpool; Dwight Yorke, Manchester United; Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Leeds United – 18 Goals
Once again, the award was shared in 1999. Once again, by three players who had all scored 18 goals. Michael Owen continued his meteoric rise with Liverpool and had the best goals per game ratio of the three – his 18 strikes came in 30 matches. Dwight Yorke and Hasselbaink (from Trinidad & Tobago and the Netherlands respectively) made history as the first non-British winners of the Golden Boot. From then on out, just three of the next 20 winners would be British.
1999-00) Kevin Philips, Sunderland – 30 Goals
Though they now play in English football’s third-tier, Sunderland were flying high at the beginning of the new millennium. They finished 7th in the Premier League, driven by the goals of the sensational Kevin Philips, the English striker who would win not only the Golden Boot that season, but the European Golden Shoe ahead of the likes of Ronaldo and Thierry Henry.
2000-01) Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Chelsea – 23 Goals
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink won his second Golden Boot after moving from Leeds to Chelsea in 1999. His 23 strikes helped the Blues to a 6th place finish, though they swapped managers early on in the season, replacing Gianluca Vialli with Claudio Ranieri. A functionalist, Ranieri would get the best out of Hasselbaink and in doing so would help him become one of a select handful of players to have won the Golden Boot on more than one occasion.
2001-02) Thierry Henry, Arsenal – 24 Goals
At his best, Thierry Henry was incomparable in the Premier League or anywhere else in the footballing universe. He won the first of four Golden Boots – a record – in 2002 after helping Arenal to a second Premier League title. Henry scored his goals, not from a conventional forward position but from a kind of half winger, half striker role to which he would bring creativity and deadly cutting edge.
2002-03) Ruud van Nistelrooy, Manchester United – 25 goals
Ruud van Nistelrooy was almost neurotically obsessed with goals. It was an obsession which led to him almost valuing individual achievement ahead of that of the team. But he was a magnificent goal-getter, and his 25 strikes in 02-03 were enough to secure United the title. He had something of a personal battle with Henry by this stage, and so the Golden Boot felt like a vindication of his methods.
2003-04) Thierry Henry, Arsenal – 30 Goals
The previous Premier League season, Henry had not only finished a single goal behind Van Nistelrooy in the scoring charts, but he had also topped the assisting table, creating 20 goals for his teammates – a joint Premier League record which he shares with Kevin De Bruyne. In 03-04, he continued to perform the playmaker role, except this time, he came out on top in the battle for the Golden Boot. His astonishing 30-goal season was facilitated by the invincible Arsenal side who went unbeaten throughout the entire league season.
2004-05) Thierry Henry, Arsenal – 25 Goals
By 2005, seeing Henry win the Golden Boot was becoming a Premier League ritual. This time he was unable to help Arsenal retain the title as Jose Mourinho stormed to a record-breaking triumph atop the table. On an individual level, however, Henry remained imperious. Arsenal and Manchester United’s duopoly was over, but Henry stayed at the top of his game.
2005-06) Thierry Henry, Arsenal – 27 Goals
Another year, another Thierry Henry Golden Boot. This time he netted 27 times, six clear of Ruud van Nistelrooy who finished second in the scoring charts. Chelsea won the league while Arsenal slipped to 4th place, only narrowly beating arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur to the last Champions League spot. It was Henry’s final Golden Boot. He would leave Arsenal for Barcelona in 2007.
2006-07) Didier Drogba, Chelsea – 20 Goals
Throughout his time in the Premier League, Didier Drogba became an icon and widely regarded as one of the division’s greatest foreign imports. For all his character and undoubted ability, however, he was not always the most frequent goalscorer. In 06-07, though, he was at the peak of his striking powers. He netted 20 times as Chelsea finished as runners-up in the league. Drogba’s role went beyond simply putting the ball in the back of the net, but this first Golden Boot was important in proving those who doubted him in that area wrong.
2007-08) Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United – 31 Goals
Cristiano Ronaldo was electric in 07-08. His campaign was one of the finest individual efforts the Premier League has ever witnessed. He scored the majority of his goals from the wing, a feat which made his 31-goal haul all the more impressive. Until as recently as 2018, his tally was a joint record for goals in a 38-game season.
2008-09) Nicolas Anelka, Chelsea – 19 Goals
Nicolas Anelka had something of a strange career. His undeniable ability did not always transform itself into results on the pitch and he wandered throughout Europe in search of a place to call home for a long time. In 08-09, however, he achieved arguably the greatest honour in his club career as his 19 goals won him the Premier League Golden Boot.
2009-10) Didier Drogba, Chelsea – 29 Goals
No one could accuse Didier Drogba of not being concerned with goals in 09-10. He scored 29 in total, a tally which lifted Chelsea to their first Premier League title after the Mourinho era. Drogba would finish his career a legend at Stamford Bridge and in English football at large.
2010-11) Carlos Tevez, Manchester City; Dimitar Berbatov, Manchester United – 20 Goals
The Golden Boot was shared again in 2011. This time, it was by two players who would become cult figures at their respective clubs. Carlos Tevez would hit 20 goals for Manchester City as Roberto Mancini’s side qualified for the Champions League for the first time in the Premier League era. Dimitar Berbatov, a completely different type of striker in the red half of Manchester, also netted 20 times as United won the league.
2011-12) Robin Van Persie, Arsenal – 30 Goals
Robin van Persie was a magnificent striker. His technique, particularly when it came to finishing, was second to none in world football. He had been in England for eight years before he won his first golden boot and without his goals, it is likely Arsenal’s late-Wenger decline would have happened much earlier.
2012-13) Robin van Persie, Manchester United – 26 Goals
In 2013, Robin van Persie became only the second player (after Alan Shearer) to win the Premier League Golden Boot with two different clubs. He swapped the Emirates for Old Trafford at the outset of the season and was justified in doing so as United reclaimed the title from Manchester City in Alex Ferguson’s last year as a manager. Like Ferguson, Van Persie goes down as one of the Premier League’s best.
2013-14) Luis Suarez, Liverpool – 31 Goals
Luis Suarez’s 33 goal haul in 2013-14 was a remarkable achievement. He reached that number without taking penalties and scoring some truly majestic goals on route. Liverpool challenged for the title for the first time since 2008 and only narrowly missed out. There is no doubt that without Suarez, they would have got nowhere near Manchester City at the top of the table.
2014-15) Sergio Aguero, Manchester City – 26 Goals
He has been around for so so long and scored so many goals that it seems strange that Sergio Aguero has just one Golden Boot to his name. He scored 26 times in 14-15 as his Manchester City side finished as runners-up to Chelsea. Only three players in the history of the Premier League have scored more goals than Sergio Aguero.
2015-16) Harry Kane, Tottenham Hotspur – 25 Goals
2015-16 will go down as the most extraordinary season in the history of the Premier League. But although Leicester City might have done the impossible, they were pushed all the way by the exploits of Tottenham Hotspur and their talisman, Harry Kane. He scored 25 times that season and became the first Englishman in 15 years to win the Golden Boot.
2016-17) Harry Kane, Tottenham Hotspur – 29 Goals
In terms of goals per game, Harry Kane’s 2016-17 season is the greatest in the history of the Premier League. He averaged 0.97 strikes per match, scoring 29 goals in just 30 games. His second Golden Boot did away with any lingering doubt as to his world-class credentials and established him as one of the finest strikers in Europe.
2017-18) Mohammed Salah, Liverpool – 32 Goals
In his first season in English football, Mohammed Salah broke the record for goals scored in a 38-game Premier League season. Prior to him, Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Suarez and Alan Shearer had all managed 31 goals – but Salah went one further, notching 32. Since then, Liverpool’s front three has become the most revered in Europe and Salah has helped restore Liverpool to their former glory.
2018-19) Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal; Sadio Mane, Liverpool; Mohammed Salah, Liverpool – 22 Goals
It was a good year for African representation in the Premier League in 2018-19 as three African players finished level at the top of the Premier League scoring charts. Manchester City pipped Liverpool – represented by Sadio Mane and Mohammed Salah – to the title, but their time would come. All three players are still going strong in the division.
2019-20) Jamie Vardy, Leicester City – 23 Goals
Jamie Vardy’s rags to riches story is one of the most romantic in English top-flight history. A few short years before Leicester won the league in 15-16, Vardy was playing non-league football. His side won the title that year, but he couldn’t quite get the better of Harry Kane to win the Golden Boot. For his legacy’s sake, therefore, it is fitting that he managed to finish top of the scoring charts in 2019-20.