What Is The Difference Between Striker And Winger?

If you’re an average soccer fan who enjoys the beautiful game but isn’t too invested in the technicalities, you might be curious about the differences between a striker and winger.

Soccer is a game that is loved and watched by millions of fans all over the world. Every soccer players have different numbers and position to fill with different roles and responsibilities.

Among these different positions, we have the winger and striker. 

In this article, we will explore strikers and wingers, what’s the key difference, and what are their roles and responsibilities on the field.

Striker And Winger – The Difference

One comparison of striker and winger is that they are both attacking players and both positions create opportunities for scoring a goal during a match.

In addition to this, both positions are different and play other roles during a match and that’s what makes them different.

Now, let’s take a look at what are the key differences between striker and winger. 

What Is A Striker (ST)? 

A striker is a highly specialized player who takes on the crucial role of leading his team’s attack and is responsible for scoring goals.

This position requires not only physical attributes, such as speed and strength but also exceptional tactical and technical abilities to create and capitalize on scoring opportunities.

The striker’s primary objective is to be in the right place at the right time to receive passes and finish goal-scoring chances.

Strikers also have an important role in setting up their teammates with assists, creating opportunities for other attacking players to score.

Roles & Responsibilities

A striker’s typical role in a game is to:

  • Be an attacking player
  • Receive the ball from the opposing team
  • To score goals for the team
  • Finish these goals with precision and accuracy


Most strikers have been seen to have the following attributes or qualities:

  • Wear the jersey shirt number 9
  • Big, strong & fast
  • Skilled in handling and manipulating the ball
  • Physically fit
  • Competent in creating chances for scoring a goal
  • Having a flawless finish

A Striker (ST) Is Positioned In The Penalty box

The striker position is one of the most critical positions in soccer, as these players are typically the focal point of their team’s attack. They are responsible for leading their team’s offensive efforts and scoring goals, making them essential players on any successful team.

Strikers are positioned in the center of the field, where they can easily move in and around the penalty box to take advantage of scoring opportunities.

This position requires excellent physical fitness, speed, and agility, as strikers need to be able to create space, make runs, and quickly change direction to get into scoring positions.

Jersey Numbers Associated With Strikers

Squad numbers were once used to indicate players’ positions on the field, but they have become more flexible in modern soccer.

Despite this, certain numbers, such as the number 9 shirt, remain closely associated with specific positions, particularly the striker position.

Lots of legendary strikers have worn the number 9 shirt, but modern soccer tactics require players to be adaptable and versatile, and wearing a specific number does not guarantee a fixed position on the field.

A Striker Must Be a Competent & Reliable Finisher

To win a soccer game, the striker serves as the team’s key attacker and must possess the necessary skills to convert opportunities created by their teammates.

As goals determine the outcome of a match, the striker’s performance significantly impacts their team’s success.

Therefore, a competent striker must possess the requisite qualities to convert chances and contribute to their team’s triumph.

As a striker, you must demonstrate the appropriate attributes to acknowledge and utilize your teammates’ hard work since they depend on you to succeed.

Strength & Speed

As the primary attacker, strikers often face two or more defenders, and these confrontations can be physically demanding. Therefore, a striker must have sufficient strength to hold off defenders and avoid being outmuscled.

While speed is not a critical attribute for strikers, they must possess enough quickness to capitalize on opportunities presented by their teammates.

This requires great strength, as strikers must work tirelessly to get to the end of as many chances as possible.

Clinical Finishing

As the striker, you are responsible for finishing multiple opportunities and scoring goals for your team. Therefore, it is imperative that you possess the skills to convert chances successfully.

To do so, a striker must remain alert and make quick, accurate decisions on the field. They have various techniques at their disposal, such as the chip shot, curler shot, and power shot, which they must apply effectively to score goals.

Continuous practice is essential for a striker to improve their finishing skills and hone their ability to apply them in actual game situations.

Good Ball-Movements

A striker’s ability to adapt to the flow of the game is crucial. The ST is responsible for spearheading the attack and mustn’t remain static even when they are not in possession of the ball.

To maximize their impact on the game, strikers must move continuously, exploiting the gaps between and behind the opposition defense.

Their movement creates space for their teammates and allows them to score goals.

Similarly, the second striker position requires effective off-the-ball movement to create opportunities and support the team’s attacking play.

Good Heading Skill

The ability to head the ball effectively is an important attribute for a striker as many teams create chances by delivering crosses from the flanks. A striker’s proficiency in heading could prove decisive in such situations.

Lots of critical goals have resulted from set-pieces and outfield crosses, and a striker must use their good heading abilities to maximize their chances of success in these situations.

Heading skills are valuable in winning highball.

When the ball is launched long, a striker must use their excellent header skills to gain and maintain possession for their team.

Good Positioning & Timing

A striker’s positioning of the team’s play is critical to their success.

Maintaining focus is imperative as even a momentary lapse in concentration could thwart the team’s efforts. Strong awareness enables the striker to make the right decisions at the appropriate time.

Timing and awareness are also essential attributes when it comes to the offside trap. In such situations, a striker must be mindful of the opposition’s defensive shape and time their movements precisely to avoid being caught offside.

Erling Haaland is a prime example of a modern-day striker whose impeccable positioning and timing have contributed significantly to his status as one of the world’s deadliest strikers.

He has scored over 50 goals for his team this season, showcasing the impact of awareness and timing in a striker’s play.

7 Best Strikers In 2023

  • Robert Lewandowski
  • Karim Benzema
  • Harry Kane
  • Erlin Haaland
  • Victor Osimhen
  • Goncalo Ramos
  • Dusan Vlhaovic

What Is A Winger? 

A winger, also known as a wide forward or outside forward, is a player who typically occupies the flanks of the field, either on the left or right-hand side.

Their primary role is to create opportunities for their team to score by delivering crosses into the box, dribbling past defenders to create space, and supplying the ball to their strikers in dangerous positions.

With modern soccer tactics, wingers are also expected to contribute defensively.

This may involve tracking back to help their full-back defend against opposing attacks or pressing high up the pitch to disrupt the opposition’s build-up play.

Roles & Responsibilities

A winger’s typical role in a soccer match is to:

  • Take on defenders one-on-one
  • Be an attacking player
  • Creates chances for scoring goals
  • Dribble and manipulate the ball while passing through defenders


Most wingers have the following attributes that make them stand out in the field during a game.

  • Very fast and quick with speed
  • Skilled in the game
  • Wear the jersey shirt number 7
  • Having stamina and agility
  • Have the endurance to last the entirety of the game
  • Small in appearance
  • Confident in taking down defenders, know when to pass and cut to their fellow teammates

A Winger Is Positioned On The Flank

While the winger is a crucial part of the team’s attacking play, they are not necessarily the main focus of the team’s attacking strategy.

Normally, wingers are positioned on the flanks of the field, either on the left or right side, where they can use their speed and dribbling ability to create scoring opportunities for their team.

Despite their position on the wings, wingers are still expected to contribute to the team’s goalscoring efforts by getting involved in the attack and making runs into the box to finish off chances.

This can include scoring goals themselves or setting up their teammates for scoring opportunities.

Compared to wide midfielders, who have more defensive responsibilities, wingers are often positioned much higher up the pitch and are expected to stay close to the opposition’s goal.

While wingers may occasionally drop back to help defend, their primary role is to support the team’s attack and create scoring opportunities.

Jersey Numbers Associated With Wingers

The conventional practice of assigning squad numbers based on positions has evolved, and current regulations permit players to wear any number on the field.

Historically, the number 9 shirt has been attributed to strikers. While wingers have been most times seen wearing either the number 7 or the number 11 jersey.

However, there are no set rules for which numbers should be worn by which positions, and teams have the freedom to allocate numbers as they see fit.

A Winger Must Deliver In The Final-Third

Wingers may not be primarily responsible for scoring goals, but their contribution to the team’s success cannot be underestimated.

They provide a vital threat from wide areas, creating and finishing chances to ensure the team’s success. As such, wingers are vital elements of the team’s attack and must possess exceptional technical skills in the final third.

Being a winger is no easy feat.

To be a good winger, one must excel in various areas, including scoring goals, creating chances, dribbling past defenders, progressing the ball up the field, creating space for teammates, and even pressing the opposition’s defense.

Good Passing Abilities

To be a productive winger, strong passing abilities are very important.

Wingers play a crucial role in their team’s attacking strategies by delivering crosses and cutbacks to their teammates in the box.

Wingers employ various types of passes to support their team’s attacking threat, including through balls, long balls, cut-backs, one-twos, and crosses.

Also, they may use long passes to switch wings and start counterattacks when needed.

A good winger should have a well-rounded skillset that includes strong and good passing abilities, in addition to dribbling, shooting, and other technical skills.

Must Be Fast, Sharp & Insightful

A winger’s speed and insight are really vital to quickly building up attacks and beating defenders in one-on-one situations.

This quality also enables them to outpace the opposing defense during counterattacks.

A winger should possess a keen awareness of the field and recognize spaces in the opposition’s defense to exploit. This allows them to make dangerous runs and create scoring opportunities for themselves or their teammates.

As a winger, it is also important to have good decision-making skills. They must be able to choose the right moment to make a run or deliver a pass.

For example, if the opposition is playing with a high line, the winger must be able to make runs behind the defense to receive balls over the top.

Similarly, if the opposition is defending deep, the winger should focus on creating chances by cutting inside or making overlapping runs with the full-back.

The ability to execute the right play at the right time is what separates a great winger from an average one.

Dribbling Skill

Wingers’ main objective is to create chances for their team by providing attacking threats from wide areas.

However, they often encounter smart and good defenders that impede their progress, making it important for wingers to have impressive dribbling skills.

A winger must be able to dribble past defenders with ease, create space for themselves, and produce accurate crosses or shots on goal.

Moreover, a good winger must have the ability to adapt to different situations and take advantage of their opponent’s weaknesses.

Good Finishing Skills

In the modern game, wingers are expected to be a complete attacking threat and contribute to the team’s goalscoring efforts just like strikers. As such, great wingers nowadays are proficient goal scorers and can significantly benefit their teams.

Therefore, a good winger should possess good finishing skills to score goals.

One type of winger that embodies these qualities are inverted wingers, who are positioned opposite to their natural foot.

For instance, a right-footed player might be positioned on the left wing, and a left-footed player on the right wing. This positioning allows them to cut inside on their stronger foot, creating a shooting opportunity for themselves or a chance to deliver a cross to their teammates.

7 Best Wingers In 2023

  • Mbappe
  • Vinicius
  • Neymar
  • Saka
  • Salah
  • Riyad Mahrez
  • Ousmane Dembele
  • Marcus Rashford 

Winger vs Striker in Soccer: What’s the Difference?

One of the key differences between a striker and a winger that anyone could clearly tell is in the position they take during a match.

The striker is positioned in the center of the field while the winger is on either flank on the field.

To better aid your understanding on what’s the key difference between striker VS winger, here’s a table for you.

1They are positioned in the center of the field They are positioned in the flanks of the field, left and right and close to the touchlines of the field 
2Their primary role is to score goals Their primary role is to create chances and score goals 
3They are tall in appearanceThey appear small and shorter
4Strikers wear jersey number 9Wingers wear jersey number 7
5Strikers work hand in hand with other teammates They are positioned in the flanks of the field, left and right, and close to the touchlines of the field 
6They have excellent and flawless finishing They exude dribbling skills 

Who Is The Most Important Between a Striker And Winger?

Both strikers and wingers have crucial roles to play on the team and the field.

While the striker’s primary responsibility is to score goals, a team’s success doesn’t solely depend on them. In the event of a goal drought, the striker may face criticism from fans, but blaming them entirely would be unfair.

Similarly, wingers are not any less important than strikers.

Running down the flanks and contributing to the team’s attack is the winger’s primary task, but they also have to defend and support their backline.

Therefore, they have additional responsibilities that make their contribution to the team just as valuable as the strikers.

Final Whistle

In conclusion to what’s the key difference striker and a winger, is that a striker’s primary role is to score goals for the team by handling, controlling, and manipulating the ball from the opposing team using their skills and experience, while a winger’s primary role is to create chances and score goals for the team.

Both positions are vital in soccer and even more important on the field during a match or game.

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