Why are forwards celebrated more than any other player in the game of football?

Is there an unknown bias towards the forwards of the beautiful game?

If you ever watch a football game, you might be aware that no one on the football pitch has quite the ability to make fans jump out of their seats like forwards. We have witnessed some great attacking talents throughout the past decades like Ronaldo Nazario, Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Thierry Henry, Eric Cantona and so many more, who just mesmerised everyone watching the game. 

Other players on the pitch, Midfielders, Defenders and Goalkeepers are just as important roles in football, as it is a team game after all. But throughout time, you would never see fans celebrate a killer pass by a midfielder or a goal-line clearance by a defender or a penalty save by the goalkeeper like they do when a forward weaves past several defenders and scores top bins. In this story, we try to understand this unspoken bias in the game of football, where we unknowingly appreciate the forwards in a football team more than any other player.   

In football, transfer fees are always inflated for forwards in comparison to defenders. For instance, the world's most expensive defender was sold for £80 million. Whereas, Neymar, the most expensive player in this galaxy was bought by PSG for about £198 million. The difference is not small, it is by a factor of more than 2.

Even the governing body recognises the value forwards hold in the sport, Lev Yashin is the only goalkeeper to have ever won the Balon d'Or. Defenders have not won too many either, Franz Beckenbauer and Fabio Cannavaro are the only winners. The numbers between Midfielders and forwards are not too close either, forwards have won about 40 times and midfielders around 20. Not much of a competition here. 

There is a famous saying “If there is a 0 in front of your team name, you won’t lose, but you can’t win either”. These words hold as scoring is the hardest thing to do in football, and the only way to win is to outscore your opponent. 

As we have seen throughout this story, that forwards are more expensive than any other player on the football pitch, this is for valid reasons. Any forward, who guarantees a team 20 plus goals a season, would make the difference in the team’s pursuit of silverware. But forwards are not the only source of goals in the game, midfielders and defenders score important goals in football games all the time, and this ability to score goals does not go unnoticed. Any player who is not a forward but has a knack for scoring goals would definitely see his stock rise in the footballing world. Read our story on Achraf Hakimi, the most expensive defender in the history of Ligue 1.

Goalscoring is a skill, which is worshipped in football like nothing else and any player who has mastered this skill is worshipped along with it. So when we understand this bias towards the forwards in the game of football, it stems from the skill of goal-scoring ability. There have been great defenders and midfielders who were adept goalscorers and were celebrated in the same ways as many of the great attacking players of their generation. Ronald Koeman, Sergio Ramos, Frank Lampard and other great players are the epitome of the fact that, if you can score goals, no matter where you play, you will be worshipped by the fans. Now the bias that we talked about, is mostly for the skill of Goalscoring ability and because the player furthest up the pitch are more likely to score in any football game, the forwards are the most expensive, the most noticed and the most celebrated players in the game of football.