Miroslav Klose is very close to becoming the all-time leading goal scorer in world cup history, and is also one goal away from entering the top 10 of all-time leading scorers in international football. Missing the match against France didn’t help, with Gerd Müller just one goal in front of him before he joins the likes of Pele and Ferenc Puskas.
Gerd Müller, 68 Goals
Müller, nicknamed Der Bomber, has the third best scoring ratio in international football among players with at least 50 goals, scoring his 68 in 62 caps for West Germany, putting him at 1.1, behind Sándor Kocsis of Hungary (we’ll get to him) and Poul Nielsen of Denmark. Müller opened his scoring account for West Germany on April 8, 1967, scoring four times against Albania in the 1968 Euro qualifiers. He scored 18 goals in major tournaments – 10 in World Cup 1970, 4 in Euro 1972 and four more in World Cup 1974, including his final international goal against the Netherlands in the ’74 WC final.
Hossam Hassan, 69 Goals – Hassan played 169 times for Egypt, beginning his international career in 1985, ending it in 2006 after winning the African Cup of Nations three times – 1986, 1998 and 2006. He was part of the Egyptian team that made the 1990 world cup, drawing twice in the group stage, losing only once, to England.
Stern John, 70 Goals – Stern John represented Trinidad & Tobago 114 times between 1995 and 2011, making his debut on February 15 in a friendly against Finland, scoring a goal. He was part of Trinidad’s team that made the 2006 World Cup, scoring their only “goal” that was later disallowed, losing two group stage matches and not scoring a single goal. He scored three goals in total for Trinidad & Tobago in their various Gold Cup appearances.
Kiatisuk Senamuang, 71 Goals – Senamuang, now Thailand’s U-23 head coach, scored 71 goals in 132 caps for the national side, leading them to local triumphs in the Southeast Asian Games, the ASEAN Football Championship and the Asian games. He scored a total of 14 goals in FIFA World Cup qualifying matches.
Bashar Abdullah, 75 Goals – Abdullah, a striker who played most of his career for Al-Salmiyah, helped Kuwait win two Gulf Cups, reach the semi-finals of the AFC Asian Cup and coming second in the Arab Cup and Asian Olympics. He was also in the Olympic team that reached the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
Sándor Kocsis, 75 Goals
A member of the Mighty Maygars, Kocsis is Hungary’s second leading scorer after Puskas, averaging 1.1 goals per match in his 68 caps for the national side. He scored six times for Hungary in the 1952 Olympics (winning gold) and 11 in the 1954 World Cup (reaching the final), including in the quarterfinals against Brazil and the semifinal against Uruguay. His final goal for the national side came on October 1956, in a 2-1 win against France in Paris.
Pelé, 77 Goals
Always in the discussion of the greatest footballer ever (if there even is such a thing), Pelé became a worldwide phenomenon after the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, scoring six goals in his debut World Cup, including twice in the Final, leading Brazil to their first triumph ever in the tournament. He added six more goals in 1962, 1966 and 1970 (four in that one), with his opening strike against Italy in the final, leading to a 4-1 win, possibly his most famous goal of all. He had an average of 0.84 goals per match (92 caps), a tad better than Romario with 0.79.
Kunishige Kamamoto, 80 Goals – The popular choice for greatest Japanese player of all-time, Kamamoto played for the national team from 1964 to 1977, reaching 84 caps. He was the top scorer in the 1968 Olympics with 7 goals, Japan taking the Bronze medal. He is often considered the first real superstar of Japanese football, leading the J-League in scoring 7 times, one of them a shared top spot.
Ferenc Puskás, 84 Goals
The first name that comes up when the golden generation of Hungarian football is mentioned, Puskás scored 84 goals in 85 caps for the national side between 1945-1956, winning the 1952 Olympics and finishing as runners-up in the 1954 World Cup. He scored four goals in the 1952 Olympics, twice in the famous 6-3 win against England in Wembley, which was the “arriving” moment of Hungarian football onto the world and scored four more goals in the 1954 World Cup. He scored his final goal for Hungary on October 14, 1956, in a 2-0 win against Austria.
A few years later he made four appearances with Spain in the 1962 World Cup (one of them in the qualifiers) after already establishing himself as a Real Madrid legend, not scoring a single goal for the Spanish side.
Ali Daei, 109 Goals
The only player with more than 90 goals in international football, Daei played for the Iranian national team from 1993 till 2006, taking part of two World Cups (1998, 2006), not scoring in both of them. His impressive form for the national team earned him a few seasons in Germany, including with Bayern Munich. He scored 22 goals for the national team in 1996, most of them coming in the AFC Asian Cup qualifying and the tournament itself, scoring 8 goals helping the team finish third in the tournament.