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By ESPN Staff

Striking sensations

They are the most sought-after players in football. Idolised across the country, strikers have the capability to win the game single-handed and revel in the glory of goalscoring.

Commanding some of the highest transfer fees in recent times the striker has become the most iconic position in football.

ESPN Classic has put together a collection of profiles of the English game's biggest strikers, candidly showing players from the last few decades both on and off the pitch.

Considered by many to be the greatest player in Liverpool's history, Kenny Dalglish heads the field and cost nearly half-a-million pounds when he was signed from Celtic in August 1977. The enigmatic Scotsman had impressed at the Glasgow club, with a goalscoring record better than one every two games and caught the eye of Reds' legend Bob Paisley.

Brought in to replace another of football's striking elite, Kevin Keegan, Dalglish had some big boots to fill and ultimately helped the Liverpool side of the late 1970s and early 80s to become one of the most feared in Europe, collecting three European Cups and six League Championship titles along the way.

Netting 172 goals in over 500 games for the club, Dalglish was blessed with a creative vision and coolness that set him apart from others and he was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2002.

Boasting a rich history of striking talent, Liverpool replaced Dalglish with the prolific Ian Rush, although the pair played together in the latter stages of the Scotsman's career. Turning his hand to management, Dalglish brought three more titles to the club and was voted Manager of the Year three times in the late 80s.

Another striker to have ended his career and turned to management is Manchester United icon Mark 'Sparky' Hughes.

Now in the hotseat at Blackburn, Hughes began his career in Manchester and brought flair and excitement to the game, often a scorer of some spectacular goals. When United decided to sell him to Barcelona in 1986 for £2.3million, he was viewed as one of the most promising strikers in Europe; although his Spanish adventure failed and Alex Ferguson bought him back to England in 1988, for a then club record of £1.8million - how times have changed.

Scoring 163 goals in nearly 450 appearances for Man Utd, Hughes won two titles and three FA Cups, but brought much more to the club than just his finishing. A firm fans' favourite at Old Trafford, the fiery Welshman will no doubt take over the managerial reigns at the club in the future, and has been ensured of a place in striking history for what he accomplished as a player there.

As has Ipswich, Tottenham and Man Utd forward Alan Brazil, although for altogether different reasons.

Forced to give up the game aged only 27, due to a serious back injury that could have seen him end up in a wheelchair, Brazil's infectious enthusiasm for life made him more of a celebrity off the field than on it.

His playing highlight was a UEFA Cup win with Ipswich in 1981, but he has proved there is more to life than football and forged a successful broadcasting career outside the game.

Now presenting the morning show on talkSPORT radio, his controversial, yet genial style has made him one of the most popular ex-professionals around. His love for carousing certainly outshone a career that saw him make 12 appearances for the Scottish national side, including partnering Kenny Dalglish at the 1982 World Cup in Spain, but he remains one of the most popular strikers from the 80s.

Another Scottish striker to have made the move to broadcasting, Andy Gray, can also claim to have won over the fans off the pitch as well as on it.

Boasting a good scoring record for numerous clubs including Dundee United, Aston Villa, Wolves and Everton, Gray has the honour of being the only player to have won the PFA Young Player of the Year and the Players' Player of the Year awards together in the same year, in 1977.

Now the face of Sky Sports, he is one of the game's most respected pundits and his voice is synonymous with passion and enthusiasm for the game; living proof that to be a top striker you have to have personality as well as a keen eye for goal.

Something that Gary Lineker can also boast. The former Spurs man, and now the presenter of BBC's Match of the Day was one of the finest finishers in the game and is second only to Bobby Charlton in the number of goals scored for England, with 48.

A prolific scorer, Lineker often dealt with accusations of being a 'goal-hanger' in a career that saw him play in Spain, Japan and most notably with Leicester, Everton and Tottenham in England. He established himself as one of the nation's greats after picking up the Golden Shoe at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico - the only Englishman to ever do so.

Lineker typified the goal poaching striker, and his tally of 245 goals in 462 appearances, speaks for itself. He also acquired the persona of 'Mr Nice Guy', never once having picked up a booking or sending off in his 16 year career.

In contrast, Frank Stapleton was a tough tacking target man with excellent aerial ability, who made his name at Arsenal in 1975 and went on to lead the side in goals for three successive seasons.

An 'old style' striker, averaging around one goal every three games, Stapleton also played for Manchester United, but is best known for his performances for the Republic of Ireland.

To this day he is viewed as one of the best players to have come out of the 'Emerald Isle', scoring 20 goals in 71 appearances, and leading the side into the 1988 European Championships where they beat England.

Catch the full line-up of strikers, kicking off at 10pm on Monday, February 5.

•  Kenny Dalglish - Monday, February 5
•  Gary Lineker - Monday, February 12
•  Ian Rush - Monday, February 19
•  Andy Gray - Monday, February 26
•  Mark Hughes - Monday, March 5
•  Kevin Keegan - Monday, March 12
•  Cyrille Regis - Monday, March 19
•  Frank Stapleton - Monday, March 26
•  Luther Blissett - Monday, April 2
•  Alan Brazil - Monday, April 9
•  Trevor Francis - Monday, April 16
•  Tony Woodcock - Monday, April 23

Immediately following the shows will be a high drama football match featuring the striker in question, other games featuring the player will also be screened on the channel for the remainder of the week from 10pm - 11pm on Sky Channel 442.

Football fans will also have the opportunity to vote for who they believe is the greatest striker throughout this period on the ESPN Classic website - www.deadgoodsport.co.uk.