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7 strikers who made instant step-up from lower leagues to top flight

Jamie Vardy is receiving all the plaudits after a phenomenal second season in the Premier League but there are plenty of others who made an impact straight away.

Image: PA Archive/Press Association Images

JAMIE VARDY’S GOAL-SCORING exploits have been the talk of the Premier League in recent weeks.

While he had shown an eye for goal in the lower leagues, after his relatively quiet debut Premier League season, just five goals in 34 games, no one predicted he would scale to the heights he has this year.

With that in mind, we take a look at some of the best goal-scorers to make an INSTANT impression in their debut top-flight campaigns after promotion from the lower leagues.

That’s right – even Vardy wouldn’t make this list.

 

Kevin Phillips (Sunderland)

Source: EMPICS Sport

Phillips had been banging in the goals for Sunderland in England’s second tier but there were plenty of doubters as to whether he could continue that goal-scoring form in the Premier League.

Playing alongside Niall Quinn, Phillips had an incredible first season in England’s top flight, scoring 30 goals in 36 games in the 1999/00 campaign.

Marcus Stewart (Ipswich)

Source: EMPICS Sport

After playing a crucial role in Ipswich Town’s promotion to the Premier League at the end of the 1999/00 season, Stewart continued where he left off, scoring 19 goals in 38 Premier League games.

This record was bettered only by Chelsea’s Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink that season.

Ipswich finished fifth and there was talk of an England call-up, only for the goals to dry up the following campaign.

Yakubu (Portsmouth)

Source: Phil Walter

The Nigerian had impressed for Harry Redknapp’s side in the then First Division after signing in January, 2003.

Little was known of the 21-year-old though, and with just 14 games under his belt in England’s second tier, not much was expected of him in his first Premier League campaign in 2003/04.

He didn’t take long to get noticed however, finding the net 16 times in 37 games. And he developed into one of the league’s most consistent goalscorers over the next few years; reaching double figures for the next four seasons after moves to Middlesborough and Everton.

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Andrew Johnson (Crystal Palace)

Source: EMPICS Sport

Johnson was somewhat of a late bloomer. After a disappointing few years at Birmingham City, he moved to Palace as part of an exchange for Clinton Morrison.

After impressing for Palace in the the First Divison, Johnson made the transition to the Premier League look easy, bagging 21 goals in 37 games in 2004/05 – although he still couldn’t prevent Crystal Palace from getting relegated.

Kevin Doyle (Reading)

Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

The Wexford man was thrown in at the deep end of the Championship following his move from Cork City in June, 2005. Injuries to Leroy Lita and Dave Kitson saw Doyle given plenty of game time and he delivered in spades, scoring 19 goals, as Reading secured promotion.

While his goal-scoring ability at the top level was doubted, Doyle proved himself in the Premier League. Despite an injury-interrupted season Doyle scored 13 goals in 32 games and was nominated for the 2006/07 PFA Young Player of the Year award alongside Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Cesc Fabregas.

Grant Holt (Norwich)

Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Holt was never the most attractive footballer to watch but his old-school approach had success in his first year in England’s top flight in the 2011/12 season, scoring 15 goals in 36 games (24 starts).

He did arrive with some pedigree after successive seasons as the club’s player of the year and a healthy goals-to-games ratio. Despite another couple of seasons in the Premier League, he never reached those heights again.

Rickie Lambert (Southampton)

Source: Andrew Matthews

Lambert arrived in the Premier League with a fierce reputation as one of the lower leagues’ most clinical strikers. He impressed during spells at Rochdale and Bristol Rovers before moving to Southampton, who were then in League One, in 2009.

He continued his clinical habits on England’s south coast and after two successive promotions, he made his Premier League debut at the age of 30.

In his first season of top-flight football (2012/13) he scored an impressive 15 goals in 38 games. He followed that up with a solid second season before moving to Liverpool, and his top-flight career went downhill from there.

About the author:

Alan Waldron

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