|This is it! The big one has arrived baby, and when all the dust has cleared this is the vote that matters. The most memorable of all legendary CM/FM players are those who grabbed the headlines with 50+ goals a season; sending you into a Championship and Football Manager wonderland.
I had to be strict with this list as at one point I must have had 35 players jotted down. I'm sure some of those players I've cut will have a real sentimental value to some of you, but like a real football manager I had to be ruthless, but I believe this is a strong shortlist of the very best strikers in Champ Man.
Let's get cracking and start with a bang in Championship Manager 97/98 where the Didier Drogba of his time was scoring goals for fun. Ibrahima Bakayoko was the Yakubu lookalike from Marseille who practically lived in the back of the net such was his way of driving the ball home. Everton - who a couple of years ago had an agreement in place with Sports Interactive to use the game's database for scouting purposes - brought Bakayoko to the Premier League and he promptly stunk up the place and has since made his way across Europe from Spain to Italy to Greece.
In Championship Manager 3 Andri Sigporsson was the Icelandic striker with a killer instinct in front of goal and a ludicrously low price tag for such a goal machine. Despite being part of the Bayern Munich youth set-up, Sigporsson was always going to find it tough to get anywhere near his CM3 goal scoring exploits.
The man they called Zlatan took centre stage in CM 99/01. No, not that Zlatan, I'm talking about Zlatan Muslimovic. The Zlatan we all know and love so much wasn't actually that good on the game so you opted for Muslimovic instead who you could pick up on the cheap from Sweden. To be fair, I guess their names sound similar so it could have been an honest mistake. While one Zlatan went on to play for some of the biggest clubs in the world, our Zlatan seemed to go on loan to nearly every club in Serie A after signing for Udinese, and now plays in China for Guizhou Renhe F.C.
Chucks Nwoko and Javier Saviola were legends in Championship Manager 00/01. You could pick Nwoko up fairly easily from Birkirkara in the Maltese league, but Saviola was a different proposition as Barcelona were not in any mood to let their wonderkid leave. For me, if you had to choose between the two on the game then Saviola would win hands down every time. He was as good as Lionel Messi on the game and scored a bagful of goals. But despite playing at some great clubs across Europe since leaving Barca (Monaco, Real Madrid, Benfica), Saviola has never made it to the next level and is now at Olympiacos. As for Nwoko, the highest profile club he has ever played for is CSKA Sofia on loan.
We were spoilt for choice in Championship Manager 01/02 and no fewer than five strikers make the shortlist from that wonderful game! Here we go: Justin Georcelin, Maxim Tsigalko, Cherno Samba, Tó Madeira and Anastasios Skalidis. Wow, where do you even start with that lot?! Each player has their own fascinating story as to why they never quite lived up to the hype.
At 17, Georcelin was at Northampton Town and many predicted a bright future for the explosive striker. But after falling in with the wrong crowd and developing a £500 crack cocaine addiction, Georcelin was sentenced to prison for his part in a spree of violent attacks and robberies on local taxi drivers.
Tsigalko was voted the best ever player on the game in a poll I posted on my blog recently and it is easy to see why. For the fee of £2m you could buy the Belarus international from Dinamo Minsk and end up with a striker who would easily bag himself close to a 100 goals per season! Of course, the real life version of events was nothing like that and Tsigalko retired at 26 due to injury.
Cherno Samba is a man who needs no introduction to the CM/FM community. The teenage prodigy could be bought from Millwall and scored goals for fun. He's moved around quite a bit in his career and at the age of 28 he is currently without a club.
Madeira was absolutely lethal and completely fictional! The Portuguese goal machine was the brainchild of one of the games researchers who created the player and named him after himself! And Anastasios Skalidis is a player I literally can't find any information on apart from stories from fans about his in-game goal-scoring exploits! I have no idea if he was real or not, although some fans claim he was a 'bug' player. Whatever he was he knew where the back of the net was!
Now we move into the final straight with Moses Ashikodi from Championship Manager 4. You'd have thought those guys at Sports Interactive would have learned their lesson with young strikers at Millwall, but they did it again with Ashikodi who was amazing in the game. In real life he has played for far too many clubs for me to list here but his current club is Cray Wanderers which tells its own story really!
Championship Manager 03/04 brought us the talents of Anatoli Todorov and Evandro Roncatto; two players who would lead your line for many a season. Todorov has always played his football in Eastern Europe and Roncatto has played in various minor European and South American leagues.
Nicolas Millan was the 14-year-old sensation from Chile in FM07 and was likened to Cristiano Ronaldo. We all bought him from Colo Colo and watched him blossom into a world class striker, but it was completely opposite in real life and he is now at Curicó Unido in the second tier of Chilean football.
A similar story could be said of Bojan Krkić in FM08 who was destined to be one of the greats with Barcelona. Even though he has one cap to his name for Spain, his career stalled and despite loans spells at Milan and Ajax, he will be turning out next season for Stoke City.
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