difference between Striker and Forward

Striker vs Forward: The Difference Explained InDepth

The terms Striker vs Forward are sometimes used interchangeably in football but you may wonder the difference between the two. Do they mean the same thing? Are all Strikers also forwards? Or do these terms differ?

Nowadays, you hear football followers call Messi, Neymar or Vinicius Jnr a Striker. Are they really Strikers because they score a lot of goals?

Let’s find out.

Read Up: Midfielders vs Strikers – Difference Explained

Who Are Called Forwards in Football?

In football, Forwards are all Attacking players. ALL of them including the Strikers.

Typically in Football, Forwards comprise of Attacking Wingers or Inverted Forwards, Second Strikers and Strikers.

Read Also: Why Do Goalkeepers Walk Out Second After The Captain?

Who Are Strikers?

Traditionally, Strikers are the Focal point of attack and they are charged with the primary responsibility of scoring goals.

Strikers are what we call the “No. 9’s” in football.

Typical examples of Strikers are Fernando Torres, Luis Suarez, Robert Lewandowski, Karim Benzema, Andriy Shevchenko, etc.

This video documentary below explains what it means to be a Striker.

Striker vs Forward: The Difference Btween Striker And Forward

The key difference between a Striker and a Forward is that a Striker can also be called a Forward but not all Forwards are Strikers in reality.

Forward is a broad description of all kinds of attackers. A Striker is just out of the many types of Forwards in Football.

In essence, the term “Striker” is like a subset of Forward in football.

Consider Reading: The Best International Footballers At Each Position Ever

Why Are Strikers and Forwards Often Wrongly Used Interchangeably?

Today, some football fans always assume a Striker vs Forwards are the same. Actually, modern-day attackers like Messi, Ronaldo Sadio Mane and Mo Salah score an outrageous number of goals that is usually expected from Strikers. This has resulted in a shift in balance.

As a result, Football fans now begin to classify all regular goal-scorers as Strikers.

This explains why even some Journalists refer to Messi as a Striker instead of a Forward. In reality, Messi, Ronaldo, Salah et all are Forwards, not Strikers.

Read Also: Strikers Who Never Scored A Goal.

Does Playing In The Center of An Attack Make a Footballer a Striker?

In modern Football, players who are not Strikers often play in the centre of an Attack. In some situations, they are called “False 9”.

Messi played in the middle of a front 3 during the time under Pep Guardiola at Barcelona. Fabregas did the same under Luis Enrique and Vincete Del Bousqet for Barca and Spain respectively.

Mo Salah and Sadio Mane are often deployed in the middle of Liverpool’s Attack. Cristiano Ronaldo also now plays in the centre-forward role. But it does not change that they are not traditional (out-and-out) Strikers.

So, to answer the question, not all players who play in the centre of an attack are Strikers.


All in all the major difference between a Striker vs a Forward is that a Striker usually plays in the arrow head (centre) of attack, while a forward could be anyone who plays across the 3 lines of attack.

The takeaway here is that ALL Strikers are Forwards but not all Forwards are Strikers. Forwards are all kinds of attackers; Wingers, Inverted Forwards, and Strikers themselves.

Let us normalize using the right term for these players. It adds a lot of meaning to our already beloved game.

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