Have Any British Players Won the European Golden Shoe?

European Golden Shoe

At the time of writing, Harry Kane is going great guns for this new club Bayern Munich and has set a new record for the most Bundesliga goals scored in the first 11 games of a season. Whether or not the former Spurs man continues his fine scoring form remains to be seen, but if he does he might well challenge for one of the biggest personal honours a player can win: the European Golden Shoe.

As with the Golden Shoe (or Golden Boot) in tournaments like the World Cup or the Champions League, the European Golden Shoe honours the best goalscorers around. Specifically, the award is given to the player who has scored the most goals in a European national league (although, as we shall see later, that definition is no longer 100% accurate!).

In this article, we’ll look at whether any British players have ever won the European Golden Shoe, and we’ll also mention the non-British players who won the award while playing for British clubs. Before that, let’s give a brief overview of how the award works and why it isn’t as simple as giving it to the player who’s scored the most goals in a season.

How the European Golden Shoe Works

Although the award is designed to honour the most prolific goalscorer in any national league in Europe, in reality it is very much skewed towards players who ply their trade in the highest-quality leagues. After some controversy involving the Cypriot FA concerning the award in 1996, since the 1996/97 season (when European Sports Media took on responsibility for the award), a weighting system has been in place for the Golden Shoe to ensure goals scored in the best leagues effectively count for more than those scored in the lesser-regarded leagues.

More specifically, national leagues are awarded points based on their association’s UEFA coefficient, so if a player plays for a club in one of the top five leagues, each goal he scores will be worth two points. Goals scored in leagues ranked sixth to 21st by UEFA would be worth 1.5 points each, and goals scored in any of the leagues ranked 22nd or lower would be worth just one point each.

On one level, you can understand the change as scoring goals in the Cypriot top-flight would, in theory at least, be easier than scoring in Italy’s Serie A. But there is certainly an impression that the system rewards the richest leagues and unfairly penalises those who play for teams in lesser leagues, even if they’ve scored more goals. But let’s not get bogged down with the politics of it, let’s instead get to the point of the article.

British Players That Have Won the European Golden Shoe

Player Nationality Season Goals Club
Ian Rush Welsh 1983/84 32 Liverpool
Ally McCoist Scottish 1991/92 34 Rangers
Ally McCoist Scottish 1992/93 34 Rangers
David Taylor Welsh 1993/94 43 Porthmadog
Kevin Phillips English 1999/2000 30 Sunderland

As you can see, there has only ever been one Englishman to have won the European Golden Shoe, Kevin Phillips for Sunderland in 1999/2000. As such, if Kane were to go all the way and win the award, he’d be just the second Englishman to do so and he’d achieve something that evaded the likes of Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer and Wayne Rooney.

Fellow British winners Ally McCoist and Ian Rush were world-class players and it is no surprise to see either of them on the list. The same cannot necessarily be said of David Taylor, whose blinding haul of 43 goals for League of Wales side Porthmadog in the 1993/94 season saw him beat the likes of Andy Cole (who scored 34 Premier League goals that season) and Brazilian star Romario (who scored 28 La Liga goals for his side Barcelona). Of course, that was before the aforementioned rule change, and with the League of Wales currently ranked somewhere around 50th out of 55 associations by UEFA, we can’t see another player from that association winning the Golden Shoe any time soon.

That’s not to take anything away from David Taylor, although that achievement was the undoubted highlight of a career that also took the player to Inter Cardiff, Holywell Town and Flexsys Cefn Druids. It does, however, perhaps give some weight to the idea of introducing a system that rewards goals in tougher leagues. Though with the Scottish association only ranked around 10th, McCoist would have to score more than 50% more goals than his nearest rival to win the award under current rules.

British-Based, Non-British Winners of the Golden Shoe

Now we’ve seen the five British players who’ve won the award, let’s run through the non-British players who have won the Golden Shoe while playing in the UK.

Player Nationality Season Goals Club
Henrik Larsson Swedish 2000/01 35 Celtic
Thierry Henry French 2003/04 30 Arsenal
Thierry Henry French 2004/05 25 Arsenal
Cristiano Ronaldo Portuguese 2007/08 31 Man United
Luis Suarez Argentine 2013/14 31 Liverpool
Erling Haaland Norwegian 2022/23 36 Man City

The first non-British player who won the Golden Shoe while playing in the UK was not in the Premier League, but north of the border in the Scottish Premiership. Sweden’s sharpshooter Henrik Larsson was the most prolific in Europe in 2000/01 and the achievement is even more impressive considering his goals were only worth 1.5 points each (compared to two points for any goals scored in the Premier League, La Liga and so on).

Thierry Henry matched Ally McCoist’s achievement of winning the award two seasons running, the Frenchman proving his worth while helping Arsenal to success under Arsene Wenger. Cristiano Ronaldo won his first (of four!) Golden Shoe awards while playing for Man United in the Premier League, while Suarez won his first of two while at Liverpool (although it was shared with Ronaldo) before the tie-break rules had been introduced.