The Fifa World Cup or the Jules Rimet Trophy as it was formerly known is the greatest trophy on offer in football and only an elite group have had the chance to hold the trophy aloft in front of their fans. It’s the greatest sporting triumph a country can every achieve and only occurs every 4 years. 

The greatest players in the history of the game have stamped their authority on the competition while many have crumbled under the immense pressure of a whole nation. Many nations have unearthed national heroes on the world’s biggest stage and many have seen their former heroes fail. There have been some incredible players to play in the World Cup since its first outing in 1930 and we take a look at the 5 players who have scored the most goals in its vast history. 

5. Pele, Brazil (12 goals) 

Not only did he score 12 goals in the competition, he also won it 3 times in just 4 attempts. Between 1958 and 1970, Pele and Brazil won the World Cup on 3 of the 4 occasions and he was the best player of the tournament in 1970. His World Cup heroics mean he is often recognised as the greatest player of all time. 

In 1958, he was the youngest player to ever feature at the World Cup and managed his first goal against Wales in the quarter-final, becoming the youngest World Cup goal scorer at 17 years and 239 days. He then magically scored a hat-trick in the semi-final against France before getting another two against Sweden, a truly remarkable last 3 games. His next World Cup ended with injury after he scored against Mexico. He only managed one goal at the next World Cup against Bulgaria as Brazil crashed out in the groups. In 1970, he scored his final 4 goals in the World Cup against Czechoslovakia, Romania (2) and Italy. This rounded off a great career in the World Cup for Pele. 

4. Just Fontaine, France (13 goals) 

With a career that only spanned 12 years, it was with the national team where Just Fontaine achieved his greatest success. In just 21 games for France, Fontaine managed 30 goals, 13 of these international goals came in just one World Cup campaign. The 1958 World Cup in Sweden saw Pele’s Brazil finish as Champions as France came third. Fontaine picked up the tournament’s golden boot and his 13 goal haul remains the highest amount of goals scored by one player at one World Cup tournament, a record which will possibly never been beaten.  

His tally started with a hat-trick against Paraguay in the France’s first match which was followed by another two goals against Yugoslavia in their second match. He then made it 6 group stage goals with one more against Scotland to see them through to the knock-out stage. He then added two more goals against Northern Ireland as his side reached the sem-final. They were knocked out by Brazil as Fontaine scored one more before impressively outing four goals past Germany in the third-place play-off match. 

3. Gerd Muller, West Germany (14 goals) 

Another true goal scoring great in the history of football is Gerd Muller, a player who scored 398 goals for Bayern Munich along with 68 for West Germany in only 62 appearances for them. His record in World Cups is just as brilliant as he scored 14 in only 13 games. In 1974, his goal scoring heroics saw West Germany win the World Cup on their own turf.

His first World Cup goal came in 1970 as he scored the winner against Morocco in West Germany’s first game of the group stage. He then followed that up with an impressive hat-trick against Bulgaria which meant Germany would reach the knock-out stage. He then recorded another hat-trick in their final group game against Peru, putting him on 7 goals for the tournament so far. Gerd Muller scored West Germany’s winner in a 3-2 win over England and Muller’s goals stopped in the semi-final. His two goals in extra-time against Italy weren’t enough to see them through to the final. He then scored four more goals at the 1974 World Cup and they came against Australia, Yugoslavia, Poland and the winner against the Netherlands in the final. 

2. Ronaldo, Brazil (15 goals) 

The second Brazilian on this list and possibly an ever better goal scorer. He is often seen as one of the greatest centre forwards in the history of the game as he played for arch rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona as well as AC and Inter Milan. In 98 games for Brazil, he managed to score 62 goals, a total only bettered by Pele.

As Brazil reached the final of the 1998 World Cup in France, Ronaldo was recognised as the greatest player in world football and the nation relied on his talent to take them to glory. He scored 1 goal in the group stage against Morocco before scoring 2 against Chile in the last 16. He then scored his third against Netherlands in the semi-final which sent his country to a final against France where an injured Ronaldo played poorly as Brazil were beaten 3-0. Ronaldo did take Brazil to glory at the 2002 World Cup in Japan as he scored 8 goals including 2 in the final against Germany. His other 6 goals came against Turkey, China, Costa Rica (2), Belgium and Turkey. His final 3 World Cup goals came at the 2006 World Cup in Germany where he scored 2 against Japan and his final goal against Ghana in the last 16.

1. Miroslav Klose, Germany (16 goals)

The greatest World Cup goal scorer of all-time. With 16 goals in World Cup competitions, he is the leading goal scorer in the history of the World Cup after appearing in 4 World Cups. His first World Cup was in Japan back in 2002 where he managed 5 goals all of which came off his head. This meant he holds the record for the most headed goals at one World Cup as he put a hat-trick past Saudi Arabia and one goal past Ireland and Cameroon.

He then managed another 5 goals at the 2006 World Cup in his home country, making him the top scorer of the competition. He scored 2 braces in the group stage against Costa Rica and Ecuador before he scored his fifth against Argentina, an 80th minute equaliser. His next World Cup saw him score 4 more goals in South Africa. He scored against Australia, England and then two more against Argentina in the quarter-final in his 100th international appearance. Klose knew that the 2014 World Cup in Brazil was his last chance to break Ronaldo’s record and he did just that. His goal against Ghana and the record-breaking goal against Brazil meant he was the all-time highest scorer at a World Cup. He also won his first ever World Cup Winners’ Medal as Germany went on to beat Argentina 1-0 in the final. A true great of World Cup football and a German hero deserving of his record as the all-time highest scorer.

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