As if he hadn’t already etched his name into Norwich City legend, Teemu Pukki has reached another landmark on his way into the Carrow Road Hall of Fame.
Pukki’s majestic double at home to Bristol City last Wednesday granted him his second and third league goals of the campaign, an admittedly uninspiring tally by the Finn’s high standards, but by zooming out and comparing Pukki to some of the club’s all-time greats, his name is fighting its way to the top.
Pukki’s flick over Bristol City goalkeeper Daniel Bentley, which left him an open net to head home his 80th goal for the Canaries, drew him level with Jack Vinall in the Canaries’ all-time top goalscoring chart. A quick second following another Bristol City error fired him ahead of Vinall, who scored 80 goals from 181 appearances between 1933 and 1937.
Just four of City’s all-time great goalscorers have scored more times than Pukki, and with the Finn in a league where he is a proven goalscorer, he will have his eyes set on climbing higher in the rankings.
Sitting just three goals ahead of Pukki is Robert Fleck who many Canaries fans will remember in yellow and green, and who netted 84 goals for the Canaries in two stints at the club. Signing from Rangers in 1987, he went on to score 39 goals in 143 appearances before a move to Chelsea took him away from Carrow Road.
Three years and two loan spells later, Fleck was back in Norfolk where he made 104 more appearances for City, scoring 16 goals, until 1998 when he signed for Reading.
Just three goals separate Fleck and Pukki, and it would be a shock if he failed to reach Fleck’s tally during his time at the club. When Pukki reaches his 84th goal for City, his attention will no doubt turn to another City legend – Iwan Roberts.
The Welsh international is a well-known name among City fans, but a large fee placed high expectations on him at the time of his arrival in 1997. After a difficult first season, he went on to score 96 goals across seven years at the club. In his final season at Norwich, he captained the side under Nigel Worthington.
Pukki requires 15 more in yellow and green to equal Roberts’ record, and while both players will be remembered for their goalscoring prowess, Roberts was a much more traditional number nine of his time.
At 6’3”, Roberts towered over defenders and often used his height as an advantage to win headers in the box. By contrast, Pukki very rarely uses his head to gain an advantage – his success as a goalscorer comes via intelligent movement and intricate build-up play.
It is after Roberts however, that Pukki will need an ambitious effort to climb the rankings.
Terry Allcock played for an impressive 11 seasons at City, and you would have to be a long-term and dedicated fan to have any first-hand memories of his time at Carrow Road. He joined from Bolton in 1958 and scored a sensational total of 127 goals in 389 games, as well as playing cricket for Norfolk.
Towards the end of his career, he moved back into midfield, making his goal tally even more impressive, and may have even become the all-time top scorer but for the position change. While it is possible Pukki will score the 46 goals needed to reach Allcock’s total, it will take at least two more seasons of consistent returns in front of goal.
The Finnish striker padding up for Norfolk County Cricket Club seems even more unlikely.
Johnny Gavin was born in Ireland in 1928 and moved to Norwich in 1948. Like Fleck, Gavin had multiple spells at the club, his first lasting six years and 203 appearances, in which he scored 76 goals. A move to North London and Tottenham followed by a return to Norfolk meant another 109 appearances and a total of 132 goals for Norwich. He remains City’s all-time top goalscorer 64 years after he left the club.
Pukki is no doubt a club legend, and a goalscoring rate of 0.46 goals per game across over four seasons is sensational and beats the rate of goals of any other player mentioned in this piece. He has been City’s top scorer for four consecutive seasons, hitting double figures in the Premier League on two occasions, as well as 58 Championship goals in 93 appearances.
And he is not done yet.
With the rest of this season left on his contract, he will have one eye on climbing those Norwich City goalscorer rankings as the Canaries fight for promotion.