The Queen of the South striker has netted 24 times in 16 games this season, and has put pen to paper on a new deal with the club this month
If asked to make an educated guess at who Europe’s hottest striker is right now, almost two months into the new season across the continent, the usual names of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar would likely spring to mind.
Indeed, the latter sits atop the Ligue 1 goalscoring charts, tied with PSG team-mate Kylian Mbappe on eight and only beaten in the top leagues by Genoa’s Krzysztof Piatek in Serie A, with nine.
But one man can trump all that. In eight league appearances, he’s found the net a stunning 12 times so far in the 2018-19 campaign. Factor in additional competitions and it’s 24 goals in 16 showings.
The division? The Scottish Championship. The club? Mid-table Queen of the South. And the man? Thirty-five-year-old journeyman striker Stephen Dobbie.
For a 15-year veteran without a major honour or international cap to his name to be the most prolific individual across Europe right now is nothing short of extraordinary – and he has been rewarded with a contract extension to tie him down until 2020 at the Dumfries club, with whom he has revitalised his career in his second spell with.
Having netted 27 times in 42 games last season, he is only three shy of equalling his 2017-18 record with over two months still to go until Christmas.
He has already scored four hat-tricks this campaign, against Clyde in the Scottish League Cup and subsequently against Falkirk, Ayr United and Alloa Athletic, to produce a strike rate of 1.5 goals per game.
Last month, Dobbie told the BBC that only the chance to play for boyhood club Rangers could tempt him away from Palmerston, admitting that he has no desire to go anywhere else.
“I’ve had people interested in signing me but the point at this time in my career is just to play football and enjoy myself” the Glaswegian said.
Beginning his career in 2003 at Hibernian, Dobbie has played for 10 clubs since making his debut, setting up shop in virtually all four corners of the United Kingdom across his career.
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A brief loan spell in the Highlands at St Johnstone became a permanent move in 2005 before he made another temporary swap to Dumbarton the following year.
Queen of the South became his permanent home in January 2007 and he subsequently helped them to the 2008 Scottish Cup Final where they were defeated by Rangers, through which they also qualified for the UEFA Cup.
Twenty-three goals in 40 matches during the 2008-09 season caught the eye of Swansea City, whom he moved to ahead of the 2009-10 campaign. However, he was initially unable to hold down a regular berth and spent a subsequent spell on loan with Blackpool, for whom he played in the first of three consecutive Championship play-off final appearances at Wembley, helping the Tangerines win promotion to the Premier League.
Dobbie returned to Swansea to help them chase down play-off success too in 2010-2011 before he returned to Blackpool again on loan following their relegation and helped them to another play-off final, where they were defeated by West Ham in 2012. A subsequent move to Brighton never really took off for him and he once again was loaned out, this time to Crystal Palace who he helped secure promotion again.
A third loan spell at Blackpool and a brief sojourn to Fleetwood Town preceded a final season in England with Bolton Wanderers before he returned to Queen of the South in 2016 where he has been since.