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Meet Europe’s leading scorer in club football this season – give or take Robert Lewandowski and Harry Kane.
Cristiano Ronaldo? Get back in your box, you’re not even at the races.
Lionel Messi? The man’s a genius, but this year he’s slept in late.
Erling Haaland? OK, he’s scoring for fun, but half a dozen of his goals have come for Norway.
Kylian Mbappe? You’re having a laugh – or vous avez un chortle, as they say in France.
Romelu Lukaku? Nice try, but not this time. Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Mo Salah? Thanks for coming, chaps.
Yes, across Europe’s major leagues, the correct answer to the hottest pub quiz question in football – even if your local boozer is closed under lockdown for now – is, of course, Cambridge United striker Paul Mullin.
Mullin has plundered 12 goals in 11 League Two appearances
(Image: Getty Images)
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Only Bayern Munich goal machine Lewandowski and Spurs superstar Kane can match Mullin’s 13-goal output for his club so far.
It’s not often Cambridge can boast a free-transfer signing from Tranmere Rovers as European football’s leading marksman. But shooting star Mullin is loving his unexpected orbit at No.1 – and he’s not planning to kick the Abbey habit any time soon.
“It’s a class feeling,” he said. “I didn’t know anything about it until I got a text off one of my brothers a couple of weeks ago, saying I was up there with Calvert-Lewin, Salah and Lewandowski as leading scorer in Europe. I’m keeping pretty good company there, and it’s one for the scrapbook. It will be nice to look back when my career’s over and enjoy the memory.
“I haven’t always been a prolific scorer, but I’ve got to make the most of it while it lasts. If I’m still up there after Christmas, I might start dreaming of the Golden Boot, but the most important is to keep winning games.
Mullin admits he may start "dreaming" of the top scorer accolade if he keeps up his form
(Image: Cambridge News)
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“Cambridge have made a good start and we’re right in the mix. If we keep winning, hopefully I’ll be among the goals. One good thing will lead to another.”
Mullin, 26, was released as a teenager by Liverpool, where he was in the same age group as Raheem Sterling before the England forward was fast-tracked into the first team to form a holy trinity with Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge.
“As a 15-year-old, his speed, dribbling and ability to go past players stood out,” said Mullin. “He’s added loads of technical aspects since then, and what he’s gone on to achieve speaks for itself.
“You knew he was highly regarded when he made his first-team debut in a pre-season game with Borussia Moenchengladbach after playing for us in the youth team a few hours earlier.”
Only Kane and Lewandowski can match Mullin's 13-goal haul
(Image: Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty I)
Will Paul Mullin keep up his prolific scoring rate for the rest of the season? Have your say here.
Unlike Sterling, Mullin’s career has taken a more scenic route in the lower divisions at Huddersfield, Morecambe, Swindon and Tranmere before the floodgates opened. Most who take a punt at Cambridge these days are going for a boat ride along the River Cam past the famed university’s dreaming spires.
But head coach Mark Bonner has been rewarded for gambling on Mullin’s unfulfilled potential.
After thrashing in the spot-kick equaliser, as Tranmere came back from 3-0 down to force a replay against Watford in the FA Cup third round last season, and scoring the winner in the replay, Mullin thought he was on top.
But by the time he came off the bench against Manchester United in the next round, Rovers trailed 6-0 and he feared his time at Prenton Park was up. “I had a chat with the manager with a couple of games left in the January transfer window because I wasn’t starting enough games and I needed to establish myself in his team, or somebody else’s team. Cambridge have given me that opportunity and it has been a perfect fit.
“But I must admit I was gutted when Lewandowski scored for Bayern against Dortmund last weekend as it meant he caught up with me in terms of goals for his club this season.”
Barrow are Mullin’s next target in League Two today. They might need sandbags and barbed wire around their six-yard box to keep out Europe’s deadliest fox in the box.
Mullin and Lewandowski might be Poles apart but they make a right pair.
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