During its 20-year history, some top strikers have graced the V.League 1 with their talents, with many going on to win the Golden Boot.
Here's the selection of the best of the best over the past two decades.
Gaston Merlo (SHB Đà Nẵng)
Đỗ Merlo. Photo thethaovanhoa.vn
Gaston Merlo won the title for four times with SHB Đà Nẵng in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2016.
The Argentinean, who became a Vietnamese national as Đỗ Merlo in 2017, played 105 matches for the central city team from 2009-14 and 2016-19, scoring 85 goals.
In his first year with the team, Merlo netted 15 times, and surpassed that tally with 19 goals the following season and 22 the season after that.
In 2016, the 1.95m striker hit his best form with 24 goals.
Merlo, 35, is now a member of DNH Nam Định and has scored twice in two matches this season.
Hoàng Vũ Samson (Hà Nội FC)
Vietnamese Hoàng Vũ Samson was originally known as Samson Kayode Olaleye of Nigeria. Samson joined Than Quảng Ninh in the V.League 2 in 2007, but he made his name with Hà Nội T&T from 2011.
From 2011-17, he played 128 matches and scored 96 times. In his comeback to the team in 2018-20, he added 18 more goals.
His outstanding performances won him the V.League 1’s Golden Boot in 2013 with 14 goals and in 2014 with 23.
Samson, 31, has moved to Thanh Hóa this season and has yet to score.
Jose Emidio de Almeida (SHB Đà Nẵng)
In four seasons at SHB Đà Nẵng from 2006-09, Almeida scored 58 goals in 62 matches.
Under coach Lê Huỳnh Đức, Almeida and Merlo were the two best forwards in the league.
In 2008-09, Almeida played all 26 matches of the year, and the Brazilian bagged 23 goals to pick up the Golden Boot.
After Đà Nẵng, the 40-year-old moved to Navibank Sài Gòn (now folded) and Quảng Nam, where he ended his career in 2014.
Huỳnh Kesley Alves (Becamex Bình Dương)
Kesley Alves arrived in Việt Nam for the first time when he was on the books of Brazil's Sociedade Esportiva Matsubara FC at the BTV Cup in 2004 when he was named best player and top scorer.
Becamex Bình Dương immediately offered him a contract and the 1.85m striker was the 2005 V.League’s top scorer with 21 goals. It also won him the best foreign player of the year award.
After an unexpected season with Hoàng Anh Gia Lai FC in 2006-07, he returned to Bình Dương and played key role in the club’s triumphs in 2007, 2008 and 2014.
Kesley became a naturalised Vietnamese in 2009 and was called up to the national team the same year. He was one of the four top scorers at the AFC Cup 2009 with seven goals.
The 38-year-old retired from football last season after 15 years in Việt Nam.
Nguyễn Anh Đức (B.Bình Dương)
Former national player Nguyễn Anh Đức is the only native player on the list since the first foreign players appeared in Việt Nam in 2003.
Wearing Becamex Bình Dương colours, Đức scored 17 times in 2017.
The 34-year-old played for only two clubs in his career. After his first season (2004-05) at ACB Bank (now folded), Đức moved to Bình Dương and played there till his retirement last year.
He played 355 matches and scored 116 goals for the club. During that time he won four V.League titles, two National Cups and four Super National Cups together with one Golden Ball statue for MVP of 2015. — VNS
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