With the under 21 European Championships now underway – and England struggling to find the net – we celebrate the top 10 England under 21 marksmen.
1 Alan Shearer – 13 goals
No surprise that England under 21’s all-time leading goalscorer is Super Al. The young Shearer bagged his under 21 goals while at Southampton. The goals came in just 11 games between 1990 and 1992, including seven goals in four Toulon matches. As this photo shows, Shearer had not quite perfected his famous one-handed celebration at this early stage in his career.
2 Francis Jeffers – 13 goals
Perhaps a bit more surprising is that Shearer shares the title with proto-Wayne Rooney, Franny Jeffers. The former Everton starlet took 16 goals to score his goals, but he scored them nonetheless. He first made his bow as an 18-year-old following a blockbuster start to his career, but he is now something of a journeyman with little success since leaving Goodison Park.
3 Frank Lampard – 9 goals
A kick in the face the many strikers to have played for the under 21s over the years with a midfielder in at number three. Lampard captained the under 21s during the (apply rose-tinted glasses and a healthy dose of nostalgia) Peter Taylor management years. He played 16 times having made his debut at 19 in a game against Cyprus.
4 Darren Bent – 9 goals
Equalling Frank’s efforts is Darren Bent. He bagged his nine goals in 14 games as the under 21s’ super-sub. Bent would often come off the bench in the second half and find the net. The Charlton striker was still eligible for the under 21s until the end of last year, and was initially due to play in the qualification play-off games with Germany in October until he was recalled to the senior squad because of injuries.
5 Mark Hateley – 8 goals
Hateley was the biggest success story to come out of England’s 1984 under 21 championship victory. Having scored eight goals in just 10 under 21 appearances, Hateley progressed to the senior side where he bagged another eight goals. The feat took him 32 caps.
6 Carl Cort – 8 goals
The 6ft 4in striker’s international prospects were once as big as his frame. The former Wimbledon youngster made his under 21 debut in 1998 when he came on as a substitute to score twice against Luxembourg. He made his final appearance shortly before his big money move to Newcastle United, but injuries have blighted his career ever since.
7 Mark Robins – 7 goals
The former Manchester United striker bagged five of his seven goals in one match. He followed up that 3-7 win over France in 1990 with goals against the USSR and Hungary. He moved on to become a Norwich City legend before trawling around the lower leagues. He is now manager of Rotherham United.
8 Shola Ameobi – 7 goals
Ameobi is one of those players who seemed to be in the under 21 setup for an eternity. In fact he made 20 appearances, which puts him in the top 10 for most caps too. Now too old for the under 21s, Ameobi has matured into an important first-team player for Newcastle although injuries ruined last season for him.
9 Jermain Defoe – 7 goals
Defoe played 23 matches for the under 21s before progressing to the senior squad, which makes his seven goals seem like a pretty poor return. Now aged 24, Defoe’s under 21 days are behind him and he can concentrate on cementing his place in the thoughts of Martin Jol and Steve McClaren.
10 John Deehan – 6 goals
At 49, Deehan is the oldest member of our Tuesday 10. Deehan scored six goals in his 11 games for the England under 21s. He was named in an England senior squad but never played a full internation. Deehan is currently director of football at Lincoln.