Striker vs forward difference

Strikers and Forwards in Football: What’s The Difference?

The terms Strikers and Forwards are sometimes used interchangeably in football. Do they mean the same thing? Are all Strikers also forwards? Or do the 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 goals?

Let’s find out.

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

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 Strikers and Forwards are the same. Actually, modern day attackers like Messi, Ronaldo Sadio Mane and Mo Salah score outrageous number of goals that is usually expected from Strikers. This has resulted in the shift in balance.

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

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

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 center of an Attack. In some situations, they are called “False 9”.

Messi and played in the middle of a front 3 during 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 center 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 center of an attack are Strikers.


The take away 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.

Further Reading:

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