“Some teams have their bogey player, who always seems to score against them. Which player has the most career goals against a single opposition, irrespective of who he is playing for?” asks John McDougall.
You won’t be surprised by most of the names on this list, but let’s start with a relatively unlikely nemesis. “David Nugent must be up there against Ipswich,” writes Elliot Rawstrone. “Fifteen goals in 18 games for Preston, Portsmouth, Leicester and Middlesborough.”
The other half of the Old Farm were famously terrorised by Luis Suárez. He scored 12 goals against Norwich, which puts him below Nugent – but, as Ian Burns points out, they came in only six games. And he didn’t score in the first one.
Romario can see Suárez’s record and raise it. In his time at PSV Eindhoven, he had it in for MVV Maastricht. He scored 13 in six games, including this beauty.
Ian Burns also highlights Wayne Rooney, who scored 15 times against four different clubs: Arsenal, Aston Villa, Newcastle and West Ham United. Everton’s greatest goalcorer, Dixie Dean, was even more indiscriminate when it came to putting the hurt on opponents. It’s hard to be 100% sure with pre-war stats, but we think he scored 20 goals against Aston Villa, Bolton and Newcastle.
Everton have been on the wrong end too, most notably when they came up against Ian Rush. He scored a whopping 26 times against them, including four in a famous 5-0 win at Goodison Park in November 1982 and two apiece in the FA Cup finals of 1986 and 1989.
Unsurprisingly, great goalscorers dominate the top end of this list. Harry Kane has scored 20 against Leicester, while Alan Shearer managed 21 against Leeds; Robert Lewandowski has savaged the hand that used to feed him, scoring 27 times against Borussia Dortmund. Another Bayern legend, the supernatural genius Gerd Mullerput 30 past Hamburg. Ally McCoist scored the same amount against Dundee. Celtic’s all-time leading goalscorer, Jimmy McGroryhit 33 in just 20 games against Third Lanark.
You want to know about Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, don’t you? They have the same favorite opponent – Sevilla. Ronaldo scored 27 times against them in 18 appearances, including five hat-tricks. Messi, and you’ll like this, hit 38 in 43 games.
In fact, Messi has scored more than 30 goals against three different teams: Sevilla (38), Atlético Madrid (32) and Valencia (31). But that’s not the record. According to this comprehensive statistical analysis of his career, Pele scored an absurd 50 goals against Corinthians. You can watch some of them here.
Pelé’s record is unlikely to be beaten, unless somebody can dig out an equally comprehensive analysis of Josef Bican’s career. But Erling Haaland will give it a shot. So far his record is six goals against three different opponents: Leipzig, Wolfsburg and – you would believe it – poor old Sevilla.
Last but not least, there is always the case of self-bogeying from the Knowledge’s old favorites.
Teammates with 500 appearances
“My club Hibernian have two players in the team with more than 500 club appearances each – Paul Hanlon and Lewis Stevenson,” tweets Harry Fisher. “Can any other club match that?
“Harry needs look no further than the other side of Edinburgh,” mails Adam Pinder. “In September 1995, when keeper Henry Smith made his 598th and last competitive Hearts appearance in a wild cup tie against Dundee, conceding four goals then both saving and missing a penalty in the shootout, fellow Hearts legends Gary Mackay and ‘Hammer of the Hibs’ John Robertson were both well past 500 appearances too. They remain Hearts’ top three appearance makers. (Given his 27 goals against them I would have thought Hibs fans would remember Robbo…)”
Hang on, we should have mentioned that in the first question. Never mind, because Adam has more members of the 500 club to discuss. “A slight step up in class now – the great Milan back four of the 1990s. When Franco Baresi and Mauro Tassotti retired in 1997, they had both made well over 500 appearances for Milan. At that stage Paolo Maldini was just shy of the milestone himself. But Maldini was well past 500 games by the time Alessandro Costacurta hit that mark too. Costacurta finished on 663, Maldini outlasted him and finally retired after 902 games for one club.”
Fred Sullivan has sent in a job lot, with a caveat: “I’m not a stats expert so I can’t pinpoint these down to individual games, but here is a list of clubs who I think have had multiple players playing together already played 500 games for the club …
Celtic 1996-97 – Pat Bonner and Paul McStay
Werder Bremen 2001-02 – Marco Body and Dieter Eilts
Real Sociedad 1992-93 – Alberto Gorriz and Juan Antonio Larranaga
Portsmouth 1959-60 – Jimmy Dickenson and Peter Harris
Internazionale 1976-77 – Sandro Mazzolla and Giacinto Facchetti
Liverpool 2012-2013 – Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard.”
Carragher and Gerrard, who last appeared together against Everton in May 2013, weren’t the only members of England’s golden generation to, er, glisten for a long time at one club. Frank Lampard and John Terry were both well past 600 appearances for Chelsea, never mind 500, when they played together for the final time against Norwich in May 2014.
And finally, the Class of 92. When Paul Scholes, Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs Appeared together for the final time, in a 3-3 draw at Everton in September 2010, they had 2,090 appearances between them: Neville 599, Scholes 648 and Giggs 843. Not that their experience United did much good: they conceded two injury-time goals to draw 3-3.
Most caps against the same opponent (3)
In the last couple of weeks we have looked at players who won the most international caps against the same opponent. We were struggling to find a list of USA legend Kristine Lilly’s 354 caps, but Alun Thomas has come to our rescue.
“Using the lineups compiled at the Society for American Soccer History, it’s possible to break down her appearances,” writes Alun. “There were three teams she faced more than 30 times in her career: China (37), Norway (32) and Canada (31). So equal first place with Imre Schlosser’s 37 games v Austria.”
“After just 12 matches, Irish league leaders Cork City built up a gap of 14 points between themselves and second-placed Bray Wanderers, having won all 12 of their games,” noted Kenneth O’Meara in 2017. “Surely a record so early in the season?”
It’s not a new record, but it may equal one. “Reading matched this in 1985-86 – they were 14 points clear after also winning their first 12 games,” recalled Steve James. “They were 16 points clear after winning their 13th game as well.”
Can you help?
“A lot has been written about the fastest hat-tricks, but did Diogo Jota – who made all three of Mo Salah’s goals in a seven-minute spell – manage the fastest ever hat-trick of assists against Rangers?” asks Boris Cule.
“I read once that the Turkish teams Goztepe and Karsiyaka (both from Izmir) in 1981 played a second division match in front of 80,000 fans and that it was, at the time, the game with the biggest crowd in the world that wasn’t played in a top tier. Is it still true?” asks Bogdan Kotarlic.
“With talk of unbeaten starts, invincibles and best teams this country has ever seen, what is the earliest in a top division that every team has lost?” wonders Tom Hickie.
“On Saturday, James Forrest became the 30th player to score 100 goals for Celtic. I could be wrong, but 30 sounds like a lot to have achieved this feat at one club. Which club has the most players to have passed this landmark?” ask John Campbell.
Mail us your questions or tweet @TheKnowledge_GU.