Roque Santa Cruz scored 26 Premier League goals in 77 appearances, 19 of which came in the 2007-08 campaign.

Arriving from Bayern Munich and finishing behind only Cristiano Ronaldo, Emmanuel Adebayo and Fernando Torres in the scoring charts, Santa Cruz has the textbook ‘one-season wonder’ campaign.

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Santa Cruz’s efforts powered Blackburn to a seventh-place finish, just two points behind Aston Villa in sixth.

The Paraguayan scored four in 20 the following season, with Rovers slipping to 15th in the table. Of course, that one campaign also led to a big money move to Manchester City.

First season in England? Check. Outlier goal scoring tally? Check. Disappointing follow-up seasons? Check.

A True One-Season Wonder

Though sometimes forgotten about when discussing Premier League one-season wonders, Santa Cruz has to be right up there.

He scored just 17 goals across the next three campaigns and didn’t better his tally of 23 goals until the 2019 season with Olimpia Asunción.

Santa Cruz was a real factor in Premier League predictions for that one season.

From an equaliser three minutes into his debut to winning Player of the Month in December, Santa Cruz delivered crucial goals throughout the season.

A run of five goals in four matches late in the campaign helped Mark Hughes’ team claim a second top seven finish in three seasons.

The Premier League odds on Santa Cruz to win the Golden Boot were long when he arrived from Bayern for £3.5 million, but he was ultimately the top scorer outside the top four.

The talent was always there. A prodigy at Bayern, the tragic loss of his brother and injuries derailed his career. Santa Cruz had become no more than a backup in Bavaria by 2007, but plenty of teams were interested.

How Hughes Convinced Santa Cruz

Speaking to The Independent in September 2007, the 6’4 striker said, "I had four or five clubs who were interested in me. I talked to some people, managers, and Mark Hughes made the difference.

"He told me his ideas. It was a simple decision after that. He said I would get the opportunity to play. And to learn.

"He said this team is competitive, but that I will only help to make it more competitive. I had a good feeling. I feel fit and strong. I feel like I can do everything now."

Of course, Hughes was then the driving force behind Santa Cruz’s move to Manchester City. The transfer didn’t work out for either party, with Santa Cruz ultimately loaned back to Blackburn in 2011.

It might have only been one successful season in England for the Paraguayan target man, but what a season it was. He excelled even the most optimistic of FPL predictions in 2007-08.

For a short period, Santa Cruz looked like a world beater. A place among the greatest strikers in Premier League history wasn’t to be, but Santa Cruz will forever be a favourite at Ewood Park.

*Credit for all of the photos in this article belongs to AP Photo*


FIRST PUBLISHED: 1st August 2022

About the Author
Sam Cox

Sam is a sports tipster, specialising in the Premier League and Champions League.

He covers most sports, including cricket and Formula One. Sam particularly enjoys those on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean – notably MLB and NBA.

Watching, writing and talking about sports betting takes up most of his time, whether that is for a day out at T20 Finals Day or a long night of basketball.

Having been writing for several years, Sam has been working with 888Sport since 2016, contributing multiple articles per week to the blog.