Was top-flight wrecking ball Pompey’s finest striker?

Yakubu scored 43 goals in 92 appearances for Pompey between 2003 and 2005
Yakubu scored 43 goals in 92 appearances for Pompey between 2003 and 2005
The Fratton End at Fratton Park. Picture: Joe Pepler

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The article described him as a one-man Premier League wrecking ball.

And it’s certainly an apt description for the force of nature which was Yakubu in his Fratton pomp.

A recent online feature highlighted the Yak’s worthy standing as one of the very best top-flight strikers of the modern era. So where does that leave him in the hierarchy of the great Pompey front men?

There’s little doubt Pompey saw him at his fearsome best, arguably providing the key impetus to secure the Division One crown in 2003.

And then came two seasons of watching him bully and rag around some of the world’s best defenders in royal blue at the highest level.

Harry Redknapp went to a certain Sir Alex Ferguson when looking for references for a relatively-unknown Nigerian earning his trade in the European backwater of Israeli football with Maccabi Haifa.

The wheels were already in motion for that deal when Yakubu got himself on the scoresheet in a 3-0 win for his side against United in a Champions League group dead rubber at the end of 2002.

The advice from Sir Alex to the Pompey boss was clear after watching him action: If you can get him – sign him. And a few months later the Fratton faithful could entirely understand why Fergie gave such a ringing endorsement.

Within four minutes of his home debut in February 2003, Yakubu had turned on the afterburners and left a Grimsby defence in his wake to get his maiden Blues goal.

After the initial celebrations, an audible ripple of noise rolled around Fratton, which was the majority of the 19,428 crowd excitedly turning to their pals as the quality of player they had on their hands sunk in.

The seven-goal boost Yakubu provided that season replenished the champions after a rocky spell of just one in nine games. Then came his ascent to become the scourge of Premier League defences over the next two campaigns.

The first season saw 19 goals arrive, including the winner in the south coast derby which sparked a phenomenal end-of-season run of 11 strikes in 10 games. Helping put Manchester United to the sword and a demolition derby penalty were part of his 17 goal haul in 2004-05.

A goal against Bolton that May proved the final of his 43 efforts for Pompey in 92 appearances.

Yakubu’s partnership with Lomana Lualua also provided a vibrant and memorable link-up through a halcyon Pompey period.

His goalscoring record at Middlesbrough, Everton, and Blackburn cements Yakubu’s place as a top-flight great. And surely that standing translates to his position in the league of Blues front men.

Defining positions is a fraught process, hugely subjective and entwined with personal emotions and memories.

These eyes have been watching Pompey for 30 years, but that still leaves a lengthy chasm before the early ’80s.

A personal attacking top-five would probably go something along the lines of: 1. Paul Walsh. 2. Mick Quinn. 3. Yakubu. 4. Guy Whittingham 5. Svetoslav Todorov, with Jermain Defoe knocking the door.

But applying the criteria of who was the best with objectivity would undoubtedly deliver a different result.

Whittingham’s goalscoring exploits are enshrined in Pompey folklore forever, as is Quinn and Todorov’s clinical eye for goal. Walsh’s magic and talent stood apart, while Defoe’s record of virtually one in every two at the highest level, although for just 12 months, highlights him as arguably the most natural finisher.

When it comes to the best of the modern era, though, those who witnessed the destructive power of Yakubu at full throttle will say he presented a powerful argument for that crown.