This season, Prostate Cancer UK is the Official Charity Partner
of The Football League. To celebrate this partnership, and in
recognition of the fact that prostate cancer affects one in nine
men in the UK, we've asked some of the some of the country's most
acclaimed football writers to tell us about their favourite No9 in
the history of the beautiful game.
This week, Michael
Cox of Zonal Marking
tells us why former Leeds, Chelsea, Middlesbrough, Charlton and
Cardiff star Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is his top centre-forward.
Earlier this season, Hasselbaink – now a coach at Nottingham
Forest – took part in Rowan Staszkiewicz’s bid to run to Forest's
away games in aid of Prostate Cancer UK. To find out more about
Rowan's challenge or to donate, click
Read on for Michael’s ode to Jimmy Floyd and tell us your
thoughts in the comments below.
Powerhouse: Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink could score from anywhere. Photo courtesy of Action Images
No one has played more Premier League matches than David James,
and when the ex-England goalkeeper was asked to name the player
he’d faced with the most powerful shot, he responded immediately.
“Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink,” he said. “Unbelievable – he scored with
a two-step run-up [against me] from 35 yards, it went like an
absolute bullet.” As anyone who remembers Middlesbrough’s game at
Man City in 2005 will tell you, this is no exaggeration.
Hasselbaink arrived in England when relative unknowns could be
overnight success stories. He was already 25 when he joined Leeds,
but had played just one good season in the relatively obscure
Portuguese league. These days, in the era of the internet, we can
read detailed scouting reports as soon as transfers are first
rumoured –back then, Hasselbaink was something of a mystery.
I remember watching him on his debut against Arsenal at Elland
Road, laughing with friends because he was the first footballer
we’d seen who wore his first name on the back of his shirt, rather
than his surname. And what a name to have on your shirt. Not
Hasselbaink, nor Jerrel – his actual first name – simply Jimmy,
No9. He scored in that game, and couldn’t stop scoring, winning the
Golden Boot in his second season.
There was more to Hasselbaink than a hard shot – he simply had
an unnerving ability to score from any angle, from any distance.
His incredible hat-trick for Chelsea against Tottenham in March
2002 demonstrated his all-round ability – brilliant curlers with
either foot were combined with a diving header to complete a
‘perfect’ hat-trick, which must challenge Dennis Bergkamp’s against
Leicester in August 1997 as the Premier League’s greatest
Sadly, Hasselbaink never won the trophies his talent deserved.
He played in four major finals – in the Copa del Rey in 2000, the
Uefa Cup in 2006 and the FA Cup in 2002 and 2008, and was on the
losing side in each. His medal haul consists simply of a Portuguese
Cup from 1997, and a Community Shield in 2000. He scored nine goals
in 23 appearances for the Dutch national team but his level of
recognition could surely have been greater, had Holland not been
choosing from the likes of Bergkamp, Patrick Kluivert, Roy Maakay
and Ruud van Nistelrooy. Hasselbaink never played in the
Eredivisie, and was handicapped by his lack of profile within
Perhaps he wouldn’t be as useful today – he preferred playing
with another forward, as his excellent partnership with Eidur
Gudjohnsen showed, and his link-up play was unspectacular. He was a
But if he only had one trick, he could perform it with
incredible regularity. Only four other players – Alan Shearer,
Michael Owen, Thierry Henry and Didier Drogba – have also won
the Premier League Golden Boot multiple times, underlining
Hasselbaink’s quality. He was both a great goalscorer, and a scorer
of great goals, which makes him one of the great No9s.
For more in our Best No9s series, check out our definitive list
of the best (and worst!) strikers from
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