The Ultimate Guide To Clinical Finishers In Football

Like every team sport in the world, everyone needs to play their role to make a football team solid. Every player has a specific role to play and a gap to plug on the pitch. As a result, winning games requires a complete team effort. 

However, in a football match, the end goal is to outscore the opponent. To achieve this, teams need to have quality goal scorers to help them finish off the chances they create. As a result, a team would need clinical finishers to help them outscore the opponents.

This guide will provide you with everything you need to know about who a clinical finisher is and examples of players who we can consider “Clinical Finishers.”

What does a Clinical Finisher mean in football?

A clinical finisher in football refers to any player who can find the back of the net whenever a chance arises. Although the player can play in any attacking position, he is usually the team’s striker. The striker’s job is to put the ball into the back of the net in every game and help his team achieve their goals.

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Every team needs a clinical finisher to give them an edge over their opponents and put them in the best position to emerge from their games with the best possible results. 

In football, the clinical finisher is often regarded as more important than many other team members. A team could sometimes be as good as their clinical finisher. As a result, every praise or accolade the team receives could be attributed to the clinical finisher. On the other hand, when things are going badly for the team, the clinical finisher may also face the most criticism.

In football, it is common knowledge that goals win games. Because of this, clinical finishers play an important role in finding their team’s goals to win games. 

They are usually the players sought out by their teammates in attacking situations and must be able to finish off chances with precision and accuracy. While there is usually room for the odd miss or two, they must rectify them by scoring a good number of goals. In addition, many teams usually seek them for their services, and they get big contracts and high salaries. 

Skillset of a Clinical Finisher

The skillset of a clinical finisher in football is usually very rounded, making them complete footballers. They have great technical quality to adapt to a variety of situations and manage to score goals. They are usually able to read the game better than opposition defenders, putting them in perfect goalscoring positions. 

In addition, they display great football intelligence and elite positioning. Also, they can execute a variety of finishes with their heads and either foot to put them in prime situations to score goals.

The trait of clinical finishing is not limited to one particular set of players, as players in some positions have distinguished themselves in front of goal, including, rather surprisingly, goalkeepers such as Rogerio Ceni and Rene Higuita

You can find out more about whether a goalkeeper can score a goal here.

Defenders and midfielders are also not left out, with Sergio Ramos, Ronald Koeman, Frank Lampard, Yaya Toure, Steven Gerrard and others are known for their clinical nature in front of goal. 

The most clinical finishers, however, are usually the strikers because of their proximity to goal and the fact that goalscoring is their primary duty to the team.

What stats can be used to determine a clinical finisher?

Several metrics may be used to measure how clinical a player is in front of goal. Some of these stats are listed below:

Goals scored

A player who scores a good number of goals every season is usually considered a clinical finisher. This takes into account the player’s goals from open play and from set pieces, as well as from the penalty spot. 

Expected Goals (xG)

The expected goals metric measures the probability of a player scoring goals using different factors. Some factors include the location of the shot, the type of pass received, the body part used to attempt the shot and the defence that the shooter faces. 

A penalty kick, for example, has a higher xG than a shot from inside the box, where defenders could block the shot. 

A player who consistently outperforms his xG is regarded as a clinical player, which indicates that the player can score even from low-quality chances.

You can find out whether you can pass a penalty kick in this article here.

Conversion rate

A player’s conversion rate refers to the percentage of his shots that end up in the back of the net. When a player scores from most of their shots attempted, they can be considered clinical in front of goal.

Shots on target percentage

A player’s ability to hit the target frequently often means the player could score more frequently. When a player can get most of his shots to be on target, it increases the likelihood of scoring more goals, which may attribute the player to being a clinical finisher.

Big chances missed

The number of big chances a player misses may indicate how clinical the said player is. When a player misses a small percentage of chances he gets, such a player may be regarded as a clinical player. There are, however, cases to prove that sometimes, players who miss the greatest number of big chances usually score the greatest number of goals.

You can find out more about the differences between key passes and chances created here.

Non-penalty goals

A player can be regarded as being clinical in front of a goal if they can score many goals from open play. Penalties are considered to be high-probability chances because it is very likely that a player would score from the penalty spot.

As a result, players are often judged on the number of goals they score from open play when determining who is clinical in front of goal. 

Examples of a clinical finisher in football

Across various eras in football, many clinical finishers show their skill and finishing ability. Here are some examples of clinical finishers who have made a name for themselves in football. This list is not exhaustive due to the great number of spectacular finishers that the world has seen, and only a few will be listed below:


Undoubtedly one of the greatest players and goal scorers in football history, Pele scored an obscene amount of goals between the 1950s and 1970s when he reigned supreme in the football world. The Brazilian great is rumoured to have scored more than 1000 goals in his illustrious career. 

He also jointly holds the record for most goals scored in the history of the Brazil national team with 77 goals. While many statistical metrics were not available in his playing days, his numbers are enough to distinguish him as one of the elite goal-scorers of all time

Here is a clip of Pele that shows just how good he really is:

Cristiano Ronaldo

In terms of official and verifiable records, Cristiano Ronaldo has scored the most goals in football history so far with 819 goals as of the time of this guide. He also has the highest number of international goals and goals in European competitions

Ronaldo is the only man ever to score in five editions of the FIFA World Cup in football history. Judging by pure finishing ability and the variety of goals scored, it is difficult to find a player from any era who is more accomplished than Ronaldo in front of goal.

You can watch some actions from Cristiano Ronaldo here:

You can find out whether Ronaldo is considered to be a winger or striker here.

Lionel Messi

Arguably the most complete attacking player of all time, Lionel Messi has scored goals with alarming regularity throughout his career. He has scored a total of 793 goals so far in his professional career. He holds a variety of goalscoring records in South America. The diminutive forward has made a name for his elite goalscoring ability with excellent technical skills.

Here is Lionel Messi in action being a clinical finisher:

You can find out whether Messi is considered to be a winger or striker here.


The Brazilian Ronaldo, Ronaldo De Lima, was one of the most impressive goal-scorers of the late 1990s and early 2000s. The striker burst onto the scene as a teenager and scored goals until he won the Ballon d’Or aged just 21

He scored 357 goals in his career despite suffering a career-threatening injury aged only 21. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest strikers in football history.

Ronaldo was one of a kind during his playing days, scoring goals like this:

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan Ibrahimovic may be regarded as football’s ultimate showman. Still, his numbers in front of goal are enough to back up his arrogance. The Swedish striker has scored a good number of goals in every team he has played, inspiring multiple teams to considerable success. He is one of the few active players to have scored more than 550 career goals and, at 41, is still on the books of AC Milan.

You can watch some of Ibrahimovic’s goals here:


In football, the presence of a clinical finisher elevates a team and makes it an elite team. Most of the best teams in world football throughout history have always had elite finishers they relied upon to score for them. 

A clinical finisher is necessary in football, and no team can achieve great success without one or more. They create a positive atmosphere in their team and make it possible for the team to succeed. Without a clinical finisher, a team will struggle to win games.

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