In a low scoring game like football, the hardest job of all is putting the ball in the net. And it is the reason why strikers tend to be the most prized of any position on the pitch. What every team wants and needs is at least one player who can do this on a regular basis, but the harder the league, the more difficult this is, because of the quality of defenders they face every week.
Taking into account the quality of the league, these are the players who have scored the most goals in a single season.
Most goals scored in a season
Lionel Messi (73)
Messi played 778 games for Barcelona, scoring for them 672 goals in all.
However, his best season from a goal-scoring perspective was the 2011-2012 campaign when he scored 73 in all.
That was the year when he also won the Ballon d’Or and the Golden Shoe as the top goalscorer in Europe (an accolade he collected seven times in all).
In fact, in the year 2012, he scored 91 goals in a calendar year, beating the previous best by Gerd Müller, who had netted 85 in 1972.
59 of those goals came in 38 La Liga appearances, 13 came in the Champions League, seven in domestic cup competitions, and the remaining 12 scored whilst playing for his country Argentina.
He also had eight other seasons playing for Barcelona in which he pass the 40 goal mark in all competitions.
Gerd Müller (67)
Müller was the ultimate fox in the box penalty area striker. He rarely scored goals from distance, preferring instead to remain close to the goal, where he used his low centre of gravity and speed over short distances to get ahead of defenders.
The man who scored the winning goal for West Germany in the 1974 World Cup final, spent almost his entire club career with Bayern Munich, finishing his career with nearly 400 goals, a club record.
His best ever season was in 1972/1973, where he amassed 66 goals in total. They included 36 in the league, 19 in various German cup competitions, and 12 playing for the West German national team.
Ferenc Deák (66)
Deák may be an unfamiliar name to many, perhaps because the Hungarian spent his entire career playing in his homeland.
However, it should be remembered that Hungary was one of the best teams in the world immediately after the Second World War, and Deák was good enough to play for them 20 times, netting 29 goals in the process.
His goalscoring record was almost unparalleled – 647 goals in 436 club games. But his best season was in 1945/1946, when playing for Szentlőrinci he notched up 66 goals in the course of a single campaign.
Gyula Zsengellér (65)
Another Hungarian, Zsengellér was part of the national team that reached the 1938 World Cup final (they lost to Italy in the end), where he was the second highest scorer in the tournament behind Leonidas of Brazil.
That same season playing for Újpest FC he scored 65 goals – 56 for his club, and a further nine for his country. He won the Golden Boot that season.
Dixie Dean (63)
Dean is the only player to have scored more than 60 goals in a single season in English football, but, at one stage, it looked like the striker’s career would be over before it had barely begun, after he fractured his skull and jaw in a motorcycle accident shortly after signing for Everton.
He recovered and finished his career with a haul of 354 goals in 399 league games, with his best coming in the 1927/1928 season when he managed 63 in the blue of Everton.
He would pick up the Golden Boot that year.
Dean was inducted into the English Hall of Fame in 2002, and remains a legend for Evertonians.
Josef Bican (63)
In terms of official matches, no man scored more in his career than the Austrian Czech footballer Bican with some records showing him having scored 948 goals in 621 matches.
(Pelé scored nearly 1,300 goals, but a number of those do not count for official purposes because they came in friendlies and exhibition games).
His best season came playing for Slavia Prague in the 1941 – 1942 season (which continued despite the raging of the Second World War.) He claimed 45 league goals and 18 cup goals, which was enough to earn him the Golden Boot.
Jimmy McGrory (63)
McGrory played for Scotland in the inter-war years, and appeared for both Clydebank and Celtic, who he later went on to manage. He was a prolific striker, who enjoyed his best season in front of goal playing for Celtic in the 1927 – 1928 season, finishing with 63 goals to his name.
Cristiano Ronaldo (61)
Ronaldo finished his time with Real Madrid as their all-time leading scorer, with 450 goals in 438 appearances.
Apart from his first season with the club, he scored more than 40 goals in every campaign that he spent in Madrid.
From an individual perspective, the apogee of that period was the 2014/2015 season in which he scored 61 goals in all, 48 in the league, earning him the European Golden Boot award, with a further ten in the Champions League.
He would also go on to win the Ballon d’Or for 2014, although Real Madrid finished second best that season to Barcelona, who won both the Champions League and La Liga.
Cristiano Ronaldo (60)
The same season that Messi scored his record 73 goals, Ronaldo had amassed 60 himself, which, in any other year, would have grabbed all the headlines. His tally included 48 in the league and 10 in the Champions League (the competition where he is the record goalscorer of all time.
Lionel Messi (60)
After notching up 73 goals the previous season, Messi had to be content with a mere 60 in the following campaign. That was still enough to earn him the Golden Shoe award, with 46 goals coming in La Liga, eight in the Champions League and a further four in the Copa del Rey.
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