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One season wonders footballers who were great for a single season

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We look at our top 10 one season wonders.

Harry Kane heads to Manchester United on Sunday chasing his 27th goal of a remarkable breakthrough season.

A call-up to Roy Hodgson’s England squad next week surely beckons and his rise has been the story of 2015.

But is this the start of a glorious career or the best spell he will ever know? Here, we look at ten other strikers who had that one season when they could do nothing wrong.


Let’s start with a name that should bring a smile to everyone’s faces. In his debut season in Serie A at Juventus, Schillaci timed his run perfectly to win a place in Italy’s World Cup squad with a flurry of goals. Sent on as a late substitute in their first match against Austria, ‘Toto’ headed a late winner his first goal for his country and the magic began. The Sicilian scored in six of Italy’s seven games at Italia ’90 to finish as top scorer and leave golden memories for a generation. Sadly, he couldn’t maintain his new status and he would only score one more goal for his country. Countless players have scored more in Italian football or for the Azzurri, but few stick in the mind quite like Toto.


The Italian was an absolute sensation when he first arrived at Rangers in 1997, scoring 23 goals in his first ten matches, including five in one game against Dundee United. How had Rangers stolen this player away from Perugia for just £3.5 million? Negri ended the season as the top scorer in the Scottish Premier Division with 32, but despite that, Rangers failed to make it ten league titles in a row, as they were beaten to it by Celtic on the final day of the season. Yet, an eye injury picked up on 5 January 1998 in a squash game with team-mate Sergio Porrini had been the beginning of the end. Negri recovered but was never the same player, and he would play only three more games for the club after that season.


Javi Moreno is a Spanish striker who personified the fleeting success of small Spanish club Alaves. In season 2000/01, Moreno and them could do little wrong as they embarked on an incredible run in the UEFA Cup, taking them all the way to the final. Moreno was the headline act, netting 22 goals in La Liga and he scored twice in the 5-4 defeat to Liverpool in that unforgettable final in Dortmund. His sensational form also won him five caps for Spain and a big transfer to AC Milan but the magic remained in Vitoria. After a sole season in Italy, he moved back to Atletico Madrid, but it was a similar story and he even had a short spell at Bolton, where he failed to score in eight appearances.


George Burley’s Tractor Boys were relegation certainties in 2000/01. Instead, Ipswich surprised everyone by finishing fifth and qualifying for the UEFA Cup. And the man spearheading it all was Marcus Stewart. Signed from Huddersfield Town, his three goals in the play-offs had taken them up and he had the time of his life in the top division. His 19 league goals was the best of any Englishman, better even than boy wonder Michael Owen, who would win the Ballon d’Or later in the year. Stewart couldn’t reach those standards again and was relegated in successive seasons at Ipswich and then Sunderland.


This entry should probably be titled ‘The Rise and Fall of Michael Ricketts’ because both happened so fast. Ricketts’ goals propelled Bolton to promotion in 2001 and he carried on in the Premier League, scoring 15 by early February. Suddenly there was a clamour for this big striker to get an England call and Sven Goran Eriksson duly obliged. Ricketts played 45 minutes of a friendly away to Holland and that was it. He didn’t impress and he returned to his club where he failed to score for the rest of that season and despite moving to Middlesbrough less than 12 months later for £3.5 million, he flopped there. That was the start of a nomadic journey of new clubs and few goals before he eventually quit football in 2010.


Andrew Johnson was on a one-man mission to keep Crystal Palace up in 2004/05.His goals had taken the Eagles up and he maintained the hot streak in the Premier League. Only Thierry Henry bettered Johnson’s return of 21 for the season, which earned him his England debut, but the trouble was he received little help. No other Palace player scored more than two as they suffered an agonising relegation on the final day. Johnson just missed out on a place at the 2006 World Cup and made a big money move to Everton, but he wasn’t the prolific striker he had been in that one season at Selhurst Park.


Little over a year after leaving domestic football in the Republic of Ireland, Kevin Doyle was causing havoc to Premier League defences. The Irish striker was plucked from obscurity at Cork City by Reading manager Steve Coppell and whisked over to England. He was part of the team that won the Championship in 2006 with a record 106 points and they eased into Premier League life, finishing in a club best eighth the following season. Doyle scored 13, but he would never have it as good again as the Royals went down a year later. The Irishman eventually returned to the top flight with Wolves, but he didn’t have the same impact second time around.


This is a controversial one, but can anyone argue that Emmanuel Adebayor has never been better than in 2007/08? That was the season when he was on fire for Arsenal, scoring 30 goals as the attacking fulcrum of Arsene Wenger’s new-look side built on the creative talents of Cesc Fabregas and Alexander Hleb. His goal in the North London derby even won him Match of the Day’s Goal of the Season award. Adebayor has continued to score goals for Manchester City, Real Madrid and Tottenham, but after an initial burst with each of them, they have usually dried up. That year under Wenger at Arsenal was definitely the best of Adebyaor.


Blackburn performed one of the great pieces of transfer business with Roque Santa Cruz. They signed the Paraguayan from Bayern Munich for £4 million, and this tall, powerful player seemed perfect for the Premier League. His 20 goals in 2007/08 were the best of his career and he was suddenly a target for the big boys. Eventually, Blackburn flogged him to Manchester City for £17 million, where Santa Cruz completely flopped. Handed a four-year contract, he managed just four goals and spent two-and-a-half years away from the club on loan before his deal finally expired in 2013.


The arrival of Miguel Perez Cuesta, or Michu as he is more commonly known, caused little fanfare outside of Swansea in the summer of 2012. New manager Michael Laudrup had used his knowledge of Spanish football to bring in this attacking midfielder from small Madrid club Rayo Vallecano for £2 million. He was given the No.9 shirt and played more like a striker as he settled in perfectly. That was his season as he scored 22 times, won the Capital One Cup and collected all the club’s Player of the Year awards. That form vanished in the second season as he netted just twice in the Premier League. He is currently on loan at Napoli in Serie A where ankle surgery has limited him to three appearances for Rafa Benitez’s team.