Footballers, coaches and scientists give their views on whether lethal strikers are born or bred

By Ben Welch for The Blizzard

Goalscorers are special. Fans worship them, managers count on them and that gorgeous, frosted-tipped goal machine staring back from the mirror loves them unconditionally. In fairness, there is substance to this inflated perception. They’re the match-winners. The top selling shirt in the club shop. The most expensive player on the pitch. According to this fraternity of goalscoring deities, no one, no matter how many hours they put in on the training ground can do what they do: put the spherical leather object into the net. Because it’s something they alone were born to do – and yet one look at the current Premier League scoring charts suggests otherwise.

With the obvious exception of Erling Haaland, forwards, wingers and midfielders are the ones monopolising football’s most revered statistic. Even full-backs are starting to get in on the act. So in the modern era of prolific false nines and inverted wingers, does the idea of “a natural-born goalscorer” still ring true? Or can the skill be developed on the training ground with the guidance of a specialist coach? I spoke to players, coaches and neuroscientists to find out whether goalscorers are born or bred.

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