Top 10 goalscorers: United's Hall of Fame

Saturday 21 January 2023 07:00

On 21 January 2017, Wayne Rooney scored a brilliant stoppage-time free-kick at Stoke City to rescue a 1-1 draw for Manchester United.

On the surface, the goal wasn't actually that important - United stayed sixth in the Premier League table, a place we'd occupied for most of the season and would go on to finish in under Jose Mourinho.

But, in terms of club history, it was vital. Rooney's superlative effort at the bet365 Stadium moved him on to 250 United goals, one more than the club record which had been held by Sir Bobby Charlton for 44 years.

As Wayne's own mark ticks into its sixth annum, with no challengers in sight - Marcus Rashford is closest of our current Reds, on 109 goals - we thought we'd take a look at United's top-10 goalscorers.

It's an interesting list, with several recent Red heroes joined by Busby Babes and a player born in the 19th century...

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All The Goals: Wayne Rooney

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10 – PAUL SCHOLES (1994-2011, 2012-2013)

Appearances: 718
Goals: 155

The fulcrum of Sir Alex Ferguson's great title-winning sides of the 1990s and 2000s, Scholes began his career as a second striker and an attacking midfielder, netting his 100th goal for the club in 2003. As his career progressed, he moved further back into midfield to fulfil a deep-lying playmaker brief but, when he initially retired in 2011, he was level with Ruud van Nistelrooy on 150 United strikes. He made a sensational return in January 2012 and added a further five goals to move into tenth position outright on our all-time list.

9 – MARK HUGHES (1983-1986, 1988-1995)

Appearances: 467
Goals: 163

Another Red who had two spells at the club, Sparky was United's leading scorer in 1985 and 1986 before a two-year sojourn at Barcelona and Bayern Munich. He returned in 1988 and hit double figures in each of his seven subsequent Old Trafford seasons, with his goals usually spectacular. All in all, the Welshman ended six of his campaigns as either our top or joint-top marksman - a number that can only be matched by Rooney.

8 – RYAN GIGGS (1991-2014)

Appearances: 963
Goals: 168

Like Scholes, Giggs was a steady accumulator of goals rather than a prolific scorer - and he had plenty of opportunity to find the net over his record 963 United appearances. The Cardiff-born winger registered in all but one of his incredible 24 campaigns as a first-team player, including what is often cited as one of the club's greatest-ever goals, against Arsenal in the 1999 FA Cup semi-final replay.

7 – JOE SPENCE (1919-1933)

Appearances: 510
Goals: 168

One of United's few true heroes between the two world wars, Spence's United CV may not have been as silverware-laden as some of the other names in the list but his 168 goals from outside right stood as a club record for 19 years until overtaken by Jack Rowley in 1952. Ninety years on from his transfer to Bradford City and his place in our all-time top 10 goalscorers is still safe.

Top 10 appearances: United’s Hall of Fame


Check out the legendary list in full, on the day we remember the great Bill Foulkes.

=5 – GEORGE BEST (1963-1974)

Appearances: 470
Goals: 179

The Belfast Boy started racking up goals for United while still a teenager and he was only 22 years of age when he reached a century of strikes for the club - still a record. His annus mirabilis in scoring terms came in 1967/68, the season in which the Reds claimed the European Cup, with Best scoring our second in the final. It was his 32nd effort of a remarkable campaign which older Reds still go misty-eyed for.

=5 – DENNIS VIOLLET (1952-1962)

Appearances: 293
Goals: 179

Busby Babe Viollet was a key component of United's most devastating league attack, in a side which hit a century of league goals on three occasions either side of the Munich Air Disaster. The 32 league strikes he managed in the 1959/60 season - for which he won the club's first-ever Golden Boot - still hasn't been beaten. Best later tied Dennis's number of goals, albeit in 177 more games.

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4 – JACK ROWLEY (1937-1955)

Appearances: 424
Goals: 211

Jack's younger brother, Arthur, was more prolific in English football, having scored a whopping 434 league goals, but the elder Rowley enjoyed greater longevity at the highest level and was the main goal-getter in Sir Matt Busby's FA Cup and league winning sides of 1948 and 1952 respectively. What's most impressive about Jack's eventual mark of 211 is that the vast majority came after his 28th birthday, with the central forward having lost several of his prime years to the Second World War.

3 – DENIS LAW (1962-1973)

Appearances: 404
Goals: 237

One of United's most prolific strikers, Law still holds the record for the quickest-ever Red to 100 goals - it took the Scot just 110 games following his 1962 transfer from Torino. While, perhaps surprisingly, Law never topped the English league scoring charts while at Old Trafford, his amazingly consistent scoring record - 24+ goals in six of his first seven campaigns - means he would probably be way out on his own at the top of this list, had it not been for a series of knee injuries at the beginning of the 1970s.

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2 – SIR BOBBY CHARLTON (1956-1973)

Appearances: 758
Goals: 249

For many, Charlton is the greatest Red, although both his appearances and goalscoring records have now been overtaken, by Giggs and Rooney respectively. A product of our famed youth system, like Scholes, Hughes, Giggs, Best and Viollet, Sir Bobby survived the Munich Air Disaster and was the key figure in Busby's second great side, which won the league twice and the European Cup between 1965 and 1968. His two strikes in the final win over Benfica are among our most cherished.  

1 – WAYNE ROONEY (2004-2017)

Appearances: 559
Goals: 253

English football's great prodigy when signed from Everton as a teenager in 2004, Rooney's United career saw him win it all and, even as he entered the final stages, he was setting new records. Wayne's goalscoring peak came between 2009 and 2012, as he netted 84 goals across these three campaigns, but he was a reliable scorer across his Old Trafford stint, managing 10 or more in 12 straight campaigns. At the beginning of 2016/17, his last season with the Reds, he was on 245 goals and that Stoke set-piece eventually took him past Sir Bobby's milestone. He finished on 253 - a mark that is sure to stand for a good few years yet.


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