Michail Antonio, Dirk Kuyt and eight other Premier League strikers who were criminally underrated

Antonio is West Ham's record Premier League goalscorer, but is only just beginning to gain the recognition he deserves. He's not the first...

Michail Antonio is currently basking in West Ham adoration, having eclipsed Paolo Di Canio's Premier League goalscoring record.

However, despite 49 top-flight goals, recognition has been a long while coming.

He is, though, just one of a host of Premier League strikers who spent too long underrated and under-appreciated, and some remain so to this day.

So, inspired by Antonio, Planet Sport looks back on the goal-getters who spent more time celebrating than being celebrated.

Michail Antonio

When West Ham paid a relatively modest £7million for Michail Antonio in 2015, no one would have expected us to be here six years later hailing him as the club's record Premier League goalscorer.

For a start, Antonio spent most of his early days at West Ham playing on the right - occasionally even at right-back.

However, Antonio's contribution to West Ham has been immense and is rightly being recognised after his record-breaking brace against Leicester.

Those goals put him two clear of Di Canio in the Hammers' Premier League goalscoring charts and he is unlikely to stop there.

Mark Robins

Not only was Robins one of the most underrated strikers around, he is also one of the single most important individuals in the history of the modern game.

It is widely known that Robins essentially saved Sir Alex Ferguson's job at Manchester United in the 1989/90 season, with his goals keeping the Red Devils in the hunt for the FA Cup - a triumph that saw the now legendary Scotsman evade the axe.

Robins was so much more than that, though. He scored 15 goals for Norwich in the first Premier League season as the Canaries finished third.

Norwich were impressing again in 1993/94 too, including registering a UEFA Cup win at Bayern Munich.

A serious injury curtailed Robins' season, however, and his importance was highlighted by Norwich slumping to 12th without him.

Peter Crouch

Everyone knows Peter Crouch was good, but he arguably never got the credit for just how good he was.

Like many tall strikers, Crouch was almost immediately pigeonholed as a 'target man' who was only good to lump balls towards.

That stigma unfairly attached itself to Crouch and the assumption was born than any team who signed him would be locking themselves into dull, direct anti-football.

Crouch, though, was exceptional with his feet too, and although he was never prolific he was incredibly effective, with Aston Villa, Southampton, Liverpool, Portsmouth, Tottenham, Stoke and Burnley all benefiting from his proven and relentlessly consistent Premier League quality.

He was also a better-than one-in-every-two games striker at international level, with his 22 England goals coming from just 44 caps. For context that puts him 17th on the England all-time goalscorers list.

Robbie Keane

Keane was another player who was recognised, yet probably never quite enough.

In truth, his failed spell at Liverpool likely hurt his reputation. There tends to be a belief that you need to do it at a club with huge pressure to completely prove yourself and, in fairness, he didn't.

Before his Anfield woes, though, Keane was a star Premier League performer for Coventry, Leeds and Tottenham, scoring regular goals for all of them.

Perhaps the problem with Keane was that he was always a difficult striker to pin down from a stylistic point of view. He wasn't the quickest, most skilful or particularly explosive. There was not an obvious defining characteristic.

What he was, though, was able to do it all, and his movement and mental sharpness gave him all the edge he needed.

An incredible 83 goals in 125 games for LA Galaxy means that while he may be under-appreciated this side of the Atlantic, it is certainly not the case in MLS.

Olivier Giroud

Often, it looked like it must be brilliant to be Olivier Giroud. He played for two of the biggest clubs in the country, won four FA Cups, a Champions League and a Europa League.

However, being Olivier Giroud also looked like being a thankless pursuit of the recognition he always deserved yet never quite received.

Giroud delivered double digits in goals in every one of his nine Premier League seasons, finishing with 144 goals in all competitions from his time with Arsenal and Chelsea. Considering he was not always a regular starter, it is a pretty incredible stat.

He has also made a serious impact at international level too, with only Thierry Henry scoring more goals for France.

Niall Quinn

There is a perception that Niall Quinn was just a sidekick to Kevin Phillips at Sunderland - a useful foil but limited to being part of a special partnership. The right man in the right place at the right time.

However, delve deeper into Quinn's career and it is evident he was far more than anyone's wingman. Quinn had a silky touch, brilliant control and was usually the cleverest player on the pitch.

Before he even arrived at Sunderland he had delivered for Arsenal and Manchester City, and when he retired he was the record goalscorer for the Republic of Ireland, too.

That record has subsequently been taken by Robbie Keane, but ask anyone who watched Quinn play regularly and they'll tell you just how good he was.

Dirk Kuyt

There is no question that Liverpool fans rated Dirk Kuyt highly, although the rest of the soccer world likely need some convincing.

Kuyt arrived in England with a prolific goalscoring record. In the previous four years he had scored over 100 goals in the Netherlands and much was expected of him.

Like so many goalscorers from the Eredivisie, though, Kuyt found the Premier League a much tougher nut to crack.

He was not able to replicate his numbers from Feyenoord, but he was still a warrior for Liverpool who ran defences relentlessly and chipped in with a decent amount of goals - 51 in all.

Peter Beardsley

This one needs some clarity. Peter Beardsley was brilliant, and we all know he was brilliant. So what on earth is he doing in a list of underrated Premier League strikers?

The answer is simple: He was much more brilliant than most of us probably remember.

Beardsley probably saved his best for Newcastle in the Kevin Keegan years. That was obviously a team perfect for just about any attacking player to thrive, but there is an argument to be made that it was Beardsley who did more than anyone to make it so.

Compare Andy Cole's Newcastle record with Beardsley (56 goals in 72 matches) to anywhere else he played. When Les Ferdinand replaced Cole, he produced his best ever season too - alongside Beardsley.

The mercurial little Geordie was a fabulous player in his own right, but he also made good players around him great ones, and that is a very rare quality to have.

Mark Viduka

If you were going to create a striker and tailor him specifically to the Premier League in the 2000s, then you'd probably come up with something very closely resembling Mark Viduka.

Despite a prolific spell in Scotland with Celtic, Viduka wasn't a huge name when he arrived at Leeds. Perhaps that lessened the expectation and pressure, but he quickly established himself as a player of rich quality.

The Australian was in the Niall Quinn mode of a supreme touch player who could reduce the game to his own pace while also revelling in the physical battles, particularly shining with his back to goal.

Viduka was at his best for Leeds and never quite hit those heights again at Middlesbrough or Newcastle, although both sets of fans still remember him fondly.

Chris Sutton

Chris Sutton is often best remembered for a disastrous spell at Chelsea and that seems very unfair.

Sutton actually started his career as a centre-back at Norwich before being used as an emergency striker.

He scored 25 Premier League goals in 1993/94 and that earned him a then British-record £5million move to Blackburn. There, he formed a lethal partnership with Alan Shearer - dubbed the 'SAS' - as they won the Premier League title.

When Shearer left for Newcastle, Sutton took the mantle and kept scoring regularly for Rovers, and that saw Chelsea willing to pay £10million for his services.

Thirty-nine matches and three goals later, including just one in the league, Sutton retreated to Celtic.

He rebuilt his reputation with 63 goals in 130 games for the Bhoys and made a brief return to the Premier League with Aston Villa before retiring with an eye injury.

READ MORE: Six of the Premier League's most overrated goals, including TWO from Wayne Rooney

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