A great goalscorer is the foundation of the greatest football teams. At a club with 51 league titles, Celtic are no strangers to consistent success and have often been fired to domestic dominance by truly world class centre forwards.
Ten players stand out in the history of Celtic Football Club, with some of the most impressive and most prolonged scoring records in European football’s archives. These are the top ten highest Celtic goalscorers of all time.
10. Kenny Dalglish – 173 goals, 1968-1977
League: 111, Scottish Cup: 11, League Cup: 35, Europe: 9, Other: 7
A king in Liverpool, Sir Kenny Dalglish is somewhat of an underappreciated hero in Glasgow’s east end. With 173 goals to his name in a Celtic shirt, Dalglish formed part of the ‘Quality Street Gang’ of youth players to emerge into the Hoops’ first team during the early 1970s.
The Scottish striker’s first full season in Celtic’s starting XI heralded a return of 29 goals, followed by a career best of 39 strikes in the 1972-73 campaign.
9. Jimmy McMenemy – 178 goals, 1902-1920
League: 142, Scottish Cup: 24, League Cup: 0, Europe: 0, Other: 10
Jimmy McMenemy ranks as one of the most significant men in the early years of Celtic Football Club. His total of 178 goals in 558 games between 1902 and 1920 elevated the Celts to domestic glory, securing the club’s place in the hierarchy of British football with eleven Scottish championships. Having netted his first Celtic goal against Port Glasgow Athletic in late 1902, McMenemy is also the oldest player to have scored for the Hoops with a strike against Motherwell in 1919 at the age of 39.
8. John Hughes – 197 goals, 1960-1971
League: 114, Scottish Cup: 25, League Cup: 38, Europe: 10, Other: 10
In eighth place with almost 200 goals in green and white is Coatbridge-born forward John Hughes. Not to be confused with a current Scottish Premiership gaffer with the same name and nickname, Celtic hero Hughes was the original ‘Yogi’ due to an apparent likeness to Yogi Bear, although his sizeable frame did little to hamper his performances from the wing – memorably scoring against Leeds United on Celtic’s route to reaching the 1970 European Cup Final.
While Hughes started that final, which Celtic lost to Feyenoord 2-1, he missed the celebrated 1967 European Cup-winning Final in Lisbon through injury but did take home a medal having been a prominent fixture in the run-up to the final.
6. (Joint) Patsy Gallacher – 200 goals, 1911-1926
League: 186, Scottish Cup: 9, League Cup: 0, Europe: 0, Other: 5
Irishman Patsy Gallacher scored the third highest number of goals in the Scottish top tier for Celtic, behind only Jimmy Quinn and Jimmy McGrory. He added a further 14 goals to his name in other competitions and ranks sixth in the all-time records with a total of 200 Celtic goals.
From the inside right position, Gallacher revitalised a team of aging Hoops legends in his younger days before assisting with the development of Celtic’s top goalscorer Jimmy McGrory. Winning six Scottish titles and four Scottish Cups over 15 years, Gallacher is remembered for an indescribable somersaulted wonder goal in the 1925 Scottish Cup Final.
6. (Joint) Sandy McMahon – 200 goals, 1891-1903
League: 131, Scottish Cup: 48, League Cup: 0, Europe: 0, Other: 21
The only player on this list from Celtic’s 19th century history, Sandy McMahon also played the fewest number of Celtic games of any player in the top ten. The striker netted 200 times in only 261 appearances between 1891 and 1903, firing Celtic to three Scottish Cup triumphs with goals in each final.
McMahon was something of a complete striker, sparkling with the ball at his feet having been nicknamed the ‘prince of dribblers’. The four-time Scottish league winner was capped by Scotland six times, scoring four goals.
5. Stevie Chalmers – 236 goals, 1958-1971
League: 155, Scottish Cup: 29, League Cup: 31, Europe: 13, Other: 8
The son of a Clydebank goalscoring hero, Stevie Chalmers created history in the green and white side of Glasgow. Making his Celtic debut at 24 in 1958, Chalmers’ 236 goals in the famous hoops delivered 13 domestic trophies in 12 full seasons at Celtic Park.
Amongst his impressive goals total is the most important goal in the history of Celtic Football Club – Chalmers hit the winner with just minutes on the clock to secure Celtic’s renowned 1967 European Cup Final victory over Inter Milan. In a team of ‘Lisbon Lions’ legends, Stevie Chalmers is a Celtic icon.
4. Jimmy Quinn – 239 goals, 1900-1917
League: 188, Scottish Cup: 30, League Cup: 0, Europe: 0, Other: 21
Only three Celtic players have scored more goals than one-club man Jimmy Quinn. 239 strikes over 17 years as a Celts player places Quinn as the club’s fourth highest goalscorer of all time, earning his place in a strong Hoops side with a hat-trick against Rangers in the 1902 British League Cup Final.
Few have bettered Quinn’s rate of scoring nearly two goals for every three games in a Celtic shirt, as he won six consecutive league titles from 1904 to 1910. The 11-cap Scotland international striker was the first Celtic player to reach 200 goals, and his achievement of two Old Firm hat-tricks stood alone for several decades until Rangers’ Ally McCoist equalled the record.
3. Henrik Larsson – 242 goals, 1997-2004
League: 174, Scottish Cup: 23, League Cup: 10, Europe: 35, Other: 0
Over a 7-year period, Celtic were blessed with one of the best talents in world football at his prime. Henrik Larsson’s dedication and record-breaking service to Celtic is unlikely to be repeated in the modern era, with most global stars often quickly opting for the higher wages of Europe’s top five leagues. The Swedish cult hero smashed 242 goals past helpless goalkeepers between 1997 and 2004, earning him a place in the all-time scoring records of the Scottish top flight as well as the most goals in European competition of any Celtic player.
Larsson ended five of his seven campaigns with Celtic as the league’s top goalscorer, winning four SPL titles in a blossoming Celtic side packed with international talent. Adored by Hoops fans, Larsson is probably the most popular player to appear in a Celtic shirt this century.
2. Bobby Lennox – 301 goals, 1961-1978 & 1978-1980
League: 171, Scottish Cup: 31, League Cup: 63, Europe: 13, Other: 23
When Bobby Lennox returned for a final spell with Celtic in September 1978 following a very brief stint in America, he returned as a continent-conquering serial goalscorer. Lennox had already accomplished it all with the Celts – playing his part in the European Cup, league title, Scottish Cup and League Cup-winning teams of the 1960s and 1970s.
With 301 goals in nearly 600 Celtic appearances, Lennox was the ammunition to the club’s golden period and netted the majority of his goals as a wide player. No ultimate Celtic XI could be without Lennox, who’s inspirational presence and performances led the Parkhead team to further domestic glory whilst approaching his 40th birthday during a second sensational shift in Glasgow.
1. Jimmy McGrory – 502 goals, 1922-1937
League: 396, Scottish Cup: 74, League Cup: 0, Europe: 0, Other: 32
Topping Celtic’s all-time goalscoring charts with 200 more goals than his closest rival is Jimmy McGrory – the most prolific striker in the history of top tier football in Britain. McGrory scored a stunning total of 502 goals in just 477 games with the Hoops, shaping the club’s reputation as one of European football’s greatest.
A small, quick centre forward, McGrory in fact possessed one of the best headers of a ball in British football history. McGrory had a penchant for diving headers and was subsequently nicknamed the ‘Human Torpedo’ and ‘Mermaid’ by supporters. The Glaswegian holds some of the most impressive records in Scottish football history – he hit the back of the net on 62 occasions in a single season and scored 56 hat-tricks over his 15-year playing career with Celtic, including eight in one match as Celtic thumped Dunfermline 9-0 in January 1928.
It’s a strike rate which can only be compared to some of the world’s best footballers of all time, yet McGrory won just three league titles with Celtic. Jimmy McGrory’s 35-year association with Celtic Football Club as its talismanic goalscorer and manager is amongst the most influential in the game.