For all the intricacies football has to offer, nothing is quite as satisfying as a thunderbolt from long range hitting the back of the net.
From Alan Shearer’s power to David Beckham’s finesse, the Premier League has witnessed some of the finest strikes of a ball the game has ever seen.
Although the 2020/21 season is still very young, we’ve already seen 12 goals from outside the area, with each one curiously scored by a different player so far.
That will be music to the ears of the single-season record-holder, Gareth Bale, who netted nine times from beyond the box for Tottenham back in 2012/13. The Welshman is now back with Spurs on loan from Real Madrid and given his appetite for the spectacular, the 31-year-old will be eyeing up top-spot on this particular list once again.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at who scored the most Premier League goals from outside the penalty box on a season-by-season basis.
Most goals from outside the penalty box: David Hirst (5)
The inaugural Premier League season was more likely to see teams trying to pump crosses into the box than firing speculative efforts at goal from distance, so it should come as no surprise that the player with the most goals from outside the area that year managed the feat just five times. The fact that it was Sheffield Wednesday’s David Hirst — who only scored a career total of six Premier League goals from outside the box — might be more of a shock.
Most goals from outside the penalty box: Matthew Le Tissier (7)
This one is anything but a shock. Matt Le Tissier made a living out of pulling off the impossible and doing the things nobody else would think of, including trying his luck from long range. The Southampton star was successful with seven of his efforts from distance in 1993/94…
Most goals from outside the penalty box: Matthew Li Tissier (8)
…And then he went one better in 1994/95. In just two seasons, Le Tissier netted 15 times from outside the box in the Premier League, contributing heavily toward a career total of 28.
Most goals from outside the penalty box: Stan Collymore & Alan Shearer (7)
1995/96 saw two players top out with seven goals from outside the box, Newcastle United legend Shearer and Stan Collymore, then of Liverpool. Although Shearer wouldn’t top the pile in this metric again, he did finish his career with a whopping 33 Premier League goals from outside the box.
Most goals from outside the penalty box: David Beckham (6)
Beckham was the distance king in 1996/97, scoring no fewer than six goals from outside the box, including that strike against Wimbledon which effectively put him on the map.
Most goals from outside the penalty box: Dennis Bergkamp, Andy Cole, Kevin Gallacher, David Ginola, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Chris Sutton & Alan Thompson (all 4).
The 1997/98 campaign saw something of an explosion of wonder goals, with the likes of Arsenal icon Dennis Bergkamp, Man Utd‘s Andy Cole — better known for his penalty area poaching — David Ginola and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, then of Leeds United, among a clutch of players on four.
Most goals from outside the penalty box: Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (8)
Hasselbaink was back again in 1998/99, doubling his tally to score a remarkable eight Premier League goals from outside the box — just under 45% of his 18-goal haul that season and putting him well on the way to matching Shearer’s career total of 33.
Most goals from outside the penalty box: Harry Kewell (6)
Staying at Leeds, with Hasselbaink off for a year with Atletico Madrid, it was the turn of fresh-faced Australian winger Harry Kewell to wow the Elland Road faithful with six Premier League goals from outside the box.
Most goals from outside the penalty box: Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink & David Beckham (7)
Hasselbaink returned to England for the 2000/01 campaign, this time joining Chelsea, and immediately regained his long-shot crown, scoring seven times from outside the area. However, he did have to share the throne with Beckham, who continued to demonstrate his free-kick prowess as Man Utd won another league title.
Most goals from outside the penalty box: Laurent Robert (6)
Was there a better sight in the early 2000s than Laurent Robert, complete with Thor’s hammer attached to his left foot, firing piledrivers into the top corner from approximately 10 miles away? Nobody quite hit them like Robert and the Frenchman topped the pile in 2001/02 with six.
Most goals from outside the penalty box: Gianfranco Zola (7)
2002/03 was the turn of one of the most loved Premier League footballers to claim top spot from distance, with diminutive Italian entertainer Gianfranco Zola netting seven times from outside the area — accounting for half of his Premier League total for the campaign in what was his last and most prolific year with Chelsea.
Most goals from outside the penalty box: Thierry Henry & Louis Saha (5)
While 2003/04 was Italian, the following season was very much French with Arsenal ace Thierry Henry and Louis Saha — who swapped Fulham for Man Utd mid-season — netting five apiece from outside the area. Henry’s effort in a 1-1 draw at home against Manchester United was particularly memorable as his Arsenal side sealed the Premier League title as invincible.
Most goals from outside the penalty box: Steven Gerrard & Frank Lampard (5)
Steven Gerrard’s thunderous strike against Olympiakos to set Liverpool on their way to eventually winning the Champions League was probably his most famous long-range strike of 2004/05, but did you know he also did it five times in the Premier League? That brought him level with England midfield teammate Frank Lampard at the top of the pile…
Most goals from outside the penalty box: Frank Lampard (6)
…And Lampard was back in 2005/06 with another six as Jose Mourinho‘s dominant Chelsea retained their Premier League title.
Most goals from outside the penalty box: Frank Lampard (7)
And guess what? Whether by free-kick or a first-time rocket from the edge of the box, Lampard was at it again with another seven goals from outside the box. In the space of just three seasons, Lampard had notched up 18 of his 41 non-penalty box Premier League goals, 45% of his 40-goal haul during that time.
Most goals from outside the penalty box: Cristiano Ronaldo & Sebastian Larsson (5)
After years of failed stepovers and fan frustration, Cristiano Ronaldo emerged as a genuine threat in 2006/07 with 17 Premier League goals. Then, in 2007/08, he absolutely exploded, netting a remarkable 31 goals in 34 Premier League games, including five from outside the box, tying him with free-kick specialist Sebastian Larsson. His knuckleball rocket against Portsmouth was the pick of the bunch while he was able to add a first Ballon d’Or award to his Premier League and Champions League winners’ medals.
Most goals from outside the penalty box: Cristiano Ronaldo (6)
Ronaldo was at it again in 2008/09 — his final year at Old Trafford — scoring another 18 Premier League goals, a third of which came from outside the box. That summer, having helped the Red Devils retain their top-flight title, he made his long-awaited move to Real Madrid. You won’t need telling what he achieved there.
Most goals from outside the penalty box: Carlos Tevez (5)
It wasn’t just Ronaldo that United lost in the summer of 2009. Carlos Tevez also made the unthinkable switch to local rivals Manchester City and made a great start to life at the Etihad, scoring 23 goals in 35 Premier League games — five of which came from outside the box.
Most goals from outside the penalty box: Carlos Tevez & Jermaine Defoe (4)
Tevez topped the pile again in 2010/11 scoring four of his 20 Premier League goals from outside the box, while he was joined on that total by Jermaine Defoe. Curiously for a player known for his ability as a goal poacher, they were the only four strikes Defoe managed in the Premier League that season.
Most goals from outside the penalty box: Sergio Aguero & Wayne Rooney (5)
Another Argentine-English duo led the way in 2011/12 although this time, it was Sergio Aguero and Wayne Rooney, who both managed five goals each from outside the box. It was Aguero, however, who will have the fondest memories of that campaign, scoring that last-minute winner to seal the title for City in what was probably the biggest moment in Premier League history.
Most goals from outside the penalty box: Gareth Bale (9)
In one of the most remarkable individual campaigns we’ve seen to date, Gareth Bale scored nine of his 21 Premier League goals from outside the box. No player has ever managed more in a single season and that no doubt played a part in enticing Real Madrid to spend more than £85m on the Wales international that summer.
Most goals from outside the penalty box: Luis Suarez (7)
If you thought 2012/13 Bale was good, what about 2013/14 Luis Suarez? The Uruguayan bagged 31 goals in 33 Premier League games as Liverpool came oh so close to ending their long title wait before famously collapsing toward the end of the season. Seven of those goals came from outside the box, including a 40-yard lob over Norwich City goalkeeper John Ruddy, all of which was enough to seal a host of Player of the Year awards.
Most goals from outside the penalty box: Christian Eriksen (6)
Christian Eriksen might frustrate at times but there’s no questioning his graceful strike of a football. He demonstrated that brilliantly in 2014/15, scoring no fewer than six goals from outside the box as Spurs finished fifth, just six points short of Champions League qualification.
Most goals from outside the penalty box: Sergio Aguero (5)
Aguero scored another five from outside the box in 2015/16, including two beyond Tim Krul in a 6-1 comeback win against Newcastle United where the Argentine scored five goals in just 20 minutes. The fact he fell one goal short of the Golden Boot that season serves as testament to just how good Harry Kane’s 25-goal haul was.
Most goals from outside the penalty box: Philippe Coutinho (6)
Having only finished eighth the season prior, Liverpool managed to haul themselves into the top four in 2016/17 and that was in no small part thanks to the efforts of Philippe Coutinho, who scored worldie after worldie among his 13-goal Premier League tally. The Brazilian would continue that theme in the first half of the following season, earning himself a big-money move to Spanish giants Barcelona.
Most goals from outside the penalty box: Kevin De Bruyne & Xherdan Shaqiri (5)
You were all wondering when Kevin De Bruyne would make an appearance in this article, right? The Belgian netted no fewer than five goals from outside the box in 2017/18, helping Man City life the Premier League title with a competition record 100 points. That tied him with then-Stoke City forward Xherdan Shaqiri, although he wasn’t able to save the Potters from relegation.
Most goals from outside the penalty box: Christian Eriksen (6)
Eriksen once again was the main man from distance, netting six times from outside of the area to take his competition total to 23. The Denmark international also helped Spurs to a first-ever Champions League final before jetting off to join Antonio Conte’s Inter Milan in January 2020.
Most goals from outside the penalty box: Kevin De Bruyne (5)
Back again with another hatful of highlights, De Bruyne saw off competition from the likes of Danny Ings, Mason Greenwood, James Maddison and teammate Riyad Mahrez (all 4) to become the 2019/20 Premier League’s top goalscorer from outside the area, netting five times from beyond 18 yards. Unlike the 2017/18 campaign, however, it wasn’t enough to bring home the Premier League crown as Liverpool finally ended their 30-year title wait.
Premier League goals from outside the penalty box: Every season’s best player (stats via Opta)
|Season||Player||Goals (from outside the box)|
|1993/1994||Le Tissier, Matthew||7|
|1994/1995||Le Tissier, Matthew||8|
|1997/1998||Hasselbaink, Jimmy Floyd||4|
|1998/1999||Hasselbaink, Jimmy Floyd||8|
|2000/2001||Hasselbaink, Jimmy Floyd||7|
|2017/2018||De Bruyne, Kevin||5|
|2019/2020||De Bruyne, Kevin||5|