If you ask any aspiring footballer what their ultimate dream is, they’d probably answer it as playing in the FIFA World Cup for their nation. The next thing they’d say is to score a goal in the competition.
Of course, winning the competition is the ultimate dream for everyone who participates, but that is only reserved for the cream of the crop.
That is why any footballer, irrespective of their popularity or ability, aspires to score in the World Cup.
A goal in the World Cup is guaranteed to give any footballer a place in the sport’s history books. They could feature in some quizzes, encyclopedias or records due to it.
In the history of the World Cup, there are only a limited league of footballers to have scored goals in the double digits.
Normally for a footballer, playing in multiple editions is a big achievement. Scoring more than 10 goals, as a result, is a bit of a herculean task.
But for Germany legend Miroslav Klose, it was almost as if tapping into an entirely different personality whenever he played in the World Cup. He first made an appearance in the competition in the 2002 World Cup, at the age of 24.
For him, it was just another competition. Klose scored five times and guided Germany to the finals of the 2002 edition, where they lost to eventual winners Brazil.
He went on to play in the 2006, 2010 and 2014 editions of the iconic competition – thanks to his impressive consistency at the club level as well.
Klose was the co-winner of the 2006 World Cup golden boot after scoring 5 goals but saw his side lose in gutting fashion in the semi-finals to eventual winners, Germany. He maintained his impressive form in the 2010 edition in South Africa.
The German striker scored 4 goals in the tournament, equalling the World Cup goal record set by Germany legend Gerd Muller with 14 strikes.
In the 2014 edition, he had a fairytale ending to his World Cup heroics, scoring twice – that made him the highest-goalscorer in World Cup history. He also lifted the trophy with Germany, pulling off a remarkable story.
The player that Klose beat to take up the crown in World Cup history accolade was Brazilian legend, Ronaldo Nazario. The ex-Real Madrid star’s best outing in a World Cup was in the 2002 edition, where he played a huge role in helping Brazil win their fifth title.
Ronaldo scored 8 goals in just 7 matches for Brazil in the competition, accounting for nearly 50% of their total strikes in the competition. He also scored a brace in the final against Germany, embarrassing Oliver Kahn and helping secure the Golden Boot for himself.
Apart from that, he also won the Golden Ball in the 1998 World Cup – in which he was also the joint-third highest goal scorer – scoring 4 times and registering 3 assists at the age of 21.
At the end of his career, Ronaldo had scored 15 times in the World Cup in just 19 matches with 0.79 goals per game average.
Germany are arguably the most consistent team in World Cup history, having won the competition 4 times and being an ever-bearing feature in the competition. So it’s not surprising that they’ll have multiple players in the list of most goals scored in the World Cup.
Before Klose and Ronaldo, Gerd Muller was the one to hold the record for most goals scored in the World Cup. He scored 14 times in just 13 games, playing in two World Cup editions for Germany.
With a 1.08 goal-per-game average, Muller’s incredible consistency in the World Cup is unlikely to be matched by any German player.
France legend Just Fontaine still holds the record for most goals scored by a player in a single World Cup edition. In the 1958 World Cup, the forward scored 13 times in just 6 appearances!
France lost to eventful winners in the semi-finals, but Fontaine’s heroics are yet to be replicated by any player in World Cup history.
Brazilian legend Pele, who boasts an incredible record having self-admitted to have scored over 1000 times in his career, is only fifth in the charts of the highest goalscorers in World Cup history. He scored 12 strikes in 14 games across four World Cup editions.
He was part of three World Cup-winning teams, having solid contributions in all of them. Apart from the five clear highest scorers in the history of the competitions, the rest of the top scorers are all scattered with a number of players.
Jurgen Klinsmann and Sandor Kocsis
Germany legend Jurgen Klinsmann, for one, scored 11 goals in 17 World Cup appearances for his national side. He scored thrice in the 1990 edition, which Germany won, before scoring five in the 1994 World Cup and three more in the 1998 edition.
But alongside Klinsmann, Hungary football legend Sandor Kocsis also boasts a tally of 11 goals. He did it in just 5 games, having a 2.20 goal-per-game average!
He even outscored Ferenc Puskas in that tournament but was unable to help his side win the World Cup – as they lost to Germany in the final.
The 10-goals club
There are six players who are tied on 10 World Cup goals, which itself is a respectable achievement in the World Cup. Germany legend Helmut Rahn, who played in the 1950s, scored 10 times in just 10 games in the 1954 and 1958 editions.
Half a century later, another German player Thomas Muller would start his journey to match Rahn’s record. In three World Cup editions, Muller has also scored 10 goals for Germany in the World Cup in three editions. He was also an influential part of the 2014 World Cup-winning team.
England have one and only player Gary Lineker in the charts of the highest World Cup scorers list. That is Gary Lineker, who scored 10 goals in 12 appearances.
Similarly, Argentina also has a sole scorer in Gabriel Batistuta who scored 10 goals in 12 appearances. He’s actually scored more in the World Cup than Leo Messi and Diego Maradona, even though that can change in Qatar 2022.
Peru legend Teofilo Cubillas and Poland icon Grzegorz Lato are the remaining players with 10 World Cup goals – scripting themselves in their history books.
Of course, we can see a number of players enter the double-digit goal club in the 2022 World Cup. Most eyes will be on Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Harry Kane – to name a few!