Kevin Phillips Remains the ONLY Englishman to Win the European Golden Shoe
In the 1999/2000 season, Kevin Phillips scored thirty league goals to lift Sunderland to a seventh-place finish in their first season back in the top flight of English football.
In doing so, he fired the club to their highest league finish since the 1950’s and finished seven goals ahead of his nearest challenger in the Premier League top scorer list. Through his efforts, he achieved international recognition and his thirty goals were enough for him to become the first Englishman (and to this day the only one) to ever win the European Golden Shoe.
It cemented Phillips’ place in history and earned him recognition throughout European football. He had achieved something which so many great strikers had failed to do before or since.
The European Golden Shoe
The European Golden Shoe, formerly known as the European Golden Boot and presented by French magazine L’Equipe, is a prestigious association football award initially created for the 1967/68 football season.
It was awarded from 1968 to the top league goal scorer in European football. Only league goals counted, it included every top division of European football, and it was originally awarded to whoever scored the most goals, regardless of perceived toughness of the league or number of games played.
Since the mid-1990’s, the award has been awarded by European Sports Media and is calculated using a points system which takes into account the toughness of each league and how many games are played. This makes it fairer and ensures that the player who wins it is thoroughly deserving of the award.
The European Golden Shoe is a prestigious award which has been won by some of the greatest players to ever step foot on a football pitch. The first ever winner of the award was Portuguese legend Eusebio, whilst German legend Gerd Muller was the first player to win it twice.
Marco van Basten, Ian Rush, the Brazilian great Ronaldo, and Thierry Henry are all names you’ll find on the list of winners. In recent years, the award has been dominated by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
As you can see, the list of winners of this awarded reads like a who’s who of the greatest footballers to have ever played in European football, and only one Englishman sits on that list.
Phillips’ Greatest Achievement
Twenty-Six English players have finished top scorer of the English top flight, old Division One and Premier League, since the inception of the European Golden Shoe in 1967/68.
English footballing greats like Jimmy Greaves, Gary Lineker, and Teddy Sheringham, who it’s estimated would be worth at least £20m in today’s transfer market, have failed to win this award.
This makes the fact Phillips did win it an even more monumental achievement and is perhaps the greatest achievement of his career.
Super Kev had been plying his trade in the third tier of English football just three seasons before and 1999/2000 was his first ever season playing in the Premier League. He had scored plenty of goals in the second tier, but some people were pessimistic about his chances of making the step up to the top flight.
We were fancied as a team who would be battling against relegation, considering they had only just been promoted, and Phillips wasn’t among the favourites to top the scoring charts.
But, top the Premier League goal scorers list is what he did and, despite the fact there were several great strikers playing all over Europe that Phillips had to out-score, he won the European Golden Shoe as well.
The Italian Serie A was perhaps the stand-out in terms of quality attacking players at that time, with Ukrainian star striker Andriy Shevchenko finishing as top scorer. He had out-scored other fantastic players such as Hernan Crespo, Gabriel Batistuta, Marcelo Salas, and Filippo Inzaghi to top that list.
Brazilian international Sonny Anderson had beaten David Trezeguet to the top spot in the French Ligue 1 scoring charts, and other top-quality players like Martin Max, Salva, and Mark Viduka had finished top scorers in their respective leagues.
Kevin Phillips, who had cost us £325,000 from Watford a few years previous, scored more goals than them all to bag the European Golden Shoe that season.
Since then, several other English strikers have tried, and failed, to finish the season as the top scorer in European football. As it stands, Phillips is still the only Englishman to win the European Golden Shoe in its over fifty-year history.