For the Updated list, go to Greatest Scorers in World Cup History
We continue with our FIFA World Cup history, lists and ranking, and today we bring you the best scorers of all time in the World Cups – the men who have scored at least 10 goals in their World Cup career – Pele, Ronaldo, Gerd Muller, Klinsmann and more.
10 Goals – Five players
We’ll begin with Batigol, Gabriel Batistuta. Batistuta played in three World Cups – 1994, 1998 and 2002. In 1994 Batistuta opened his World Cup career by scoring a hat trick against Greece in a 4-0 win by Argentina, but didn’t score again in during the group stages. In the round of 16 Batistuta scored another goal for Argentina, who lost to Romania 3-2. In the 1998 World Cup Batistua again scored on Argentina’s opening match, scoring the team’s only goal in a 1-0 win over Japan. A week later, in Argentina’s 5-0 win over Jamica Batistua became the first player to score a hat trick in two World Cups and the fourth player to score two World Cup hat tricks. Argentina made it through to the quarter finals this time, after a classic round of 16 game against England, with Batistuta scoring one of Argentina’s goals in a game that ended 2-2 with Argentina winning after penalty kicks. Holland knocked out Argentina in the quarters, winning 2-1. Batistuta opened the 2002 World cup again with a goal in Argentina’s opening game, scoring the only goal in the win over Nigeria. That was Batistuta’s last goal in the World Cup, as Argentina didn’t make it out of the group stage. Batistuta retired after 2005 as the greatest scorer in the national team history, with 56 goals in 78 caps.
Next is Peruvian Teofilo Cubillas who also scored 10 goals in three World Cups. When he was only 20 he started his World Cup career with Peru at the 1970 World Cup. He scored five goals in four matches, as Peru went on to the Quarter Finals and lost 4-2 to Brazil there. He scored one in the opening win against Bulgaria, two against Morocco in a 3-0 win and one in a loss to West Germany. He also scored in the loss to Brazil. In 1978 he scored another five goals, finishing as second best scorer after Mario Kempes. He scored another two in the opener against Scotland and a hat trick against Iran in a 4-1 win. Peru made it to the second group stage but didn’t score one goal in three games. Cubillas played also in the 1982 World Cup but didn’t score a goal. El Nene is considered the most famous Peruvian player ever and is the best scorer ever for his national team.
Miroslav Klose, born in Poland and member of the German national team is the third player with 10 World Cup goals. Klose has played in two World Cups, 2002 and 2006, scoring five goals in each and also winning the golden boot in the 2006 World Cup that took place in Germany. He is the only player to score five+ goals in consecutive World Cups. In 2002 he started with a hat trick against Saudi Arabia in Germany’s 8-0 win, one in the 1-1 draw with Ireland and another one in Germany’s 2-0 win over Cameroon. Germany made it to the finals but Klose didn’t score another goal in the tournament. In 2006 he opened with a couple of goals against Costa Rica (4-2 win) and another two in the 3-0 win over Ecuador. In the Quarter Finals Klose scored the equalizing goal against Argentina, sending the game into extra time and a penalty shootout which Germany won. They got knocked out in the Semi’s by Italy. Klose has 44 goals in 81 caps for the German national team so far.
Number four with 10 goals, Grzegorz Lato, part of the golden era of the Poland national team. He played in three World Cups – 1974, 1978 and 1982. In 1974 Lato scored two braces, one against Argentina (3-2 win) and against Haiti (7-0 win). Lato scored in two games in the second group stage, but Poland made it only to the third place match, beating Brazil 1-0 win Lato scoring. He finished as the tournament’s top scorer with seven goals. Poland made it to the second group stage again in 1978, but didn’t succeed as in 1974. Lato scored two goals in the tournament. Poland finished third again in 1982, with Lato scoring only one goal, in a 5-1 win over Peru. Lato is the most capped player for Poland, with a 104.
Gary Lineker is the next 10 goals scoring man on our list – six in 1986 (winning the golden boot) and four in 1990, helping England to a Semi Final appearance, where they lost to West Germany in Penalties. Lineker scored a hat trick against Poland in 1986, two against Paraguay in the round of 16 match and one in the quarter finals 2-1 loss to Argentina, maybe the most famous game in World Cup history, with the two (one brilliant, one illegally notorious) Maradona goals. In 1990 he scored one in the group stages against Ireland and two penalties in the quarter final win over Cameroon, including the 3-2 winner in extra time. He scored the equalizing goal against Germany in the Semi’s, before losing the penalty shootout. Lineker is second on England’s all time scorers list, with 48.
The final and sixth player on our 10 goals list is German Helmut Rahn, the man who scored the winning goal in the 3-2 victory over Hungary in the 1954 Finals. Rahn scored four goals in the 1954 World cup, including two in the final. West Germany lost to Hungary 8-3 in the group stage (Rahn scored there as well) but were able to come back from going down 2-0 after 8 minutes in the final. Rahn scored twice, including the 84th minute winner. He scored six goals in the 1958 World Cup, four of them coming the group stage, scoring in all three matches. Rahn scored in the 1-0 win over Yugoslavia in the Quarter Final, but Germany lost in the Semi’s to Sweden. In the third place match that Germany lost to France 6-3 Rahn scored his final World Cup goal.
11 goals – Two Players
It’s getting thinner as we get closer to the top. We being the 11 goals scorers with another German, Jurgen Klinsmann. He played in three World Cups – 1990, 1994 and 1998, winning the 1990 tournament with West Germany. He scored three goals in 1990 – two in the group stage (one in a 4-1 win over Yugoslavia and one in a 5-1 win over the Arab Emirates). His third goal came in the round of 16 match against Holland, scoring the opener as West Germany went on to win 2-1. That match was mostly remembered for Frank Rijkaard spitting at Rudi Voeller. In 1994 West Germany came as favorites, alongside Brazil, to win the cup. Klinsmann scored four goals in the group stage, scoring one in all three matches, including two in the 3-2 win over South Korea.He added one in the 3-2 win over Belgium in the round of 16, his fifth and final goal in that World Cup. Germany lost to Bulgaria in the Quarter Final, one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history. In 1998 the 34 year old Klinsmann played in his final World Cup and scored three goals. Two of them came in the Group stage in the wins over the United States and Iran, and his final World Cup goal came in the round of 16 win over Mexico, scoring the equalizing goal in the 2-1 comeback win. Klinsmann also managed the German national team to a third place finish in the 2006 World Cup.
Second with 11 goals is Hungarian Sandor Kocsis, the Golden Head. He was part of the legendary 1950’s Hungarian national side that finished as runners up in the 1954 World Cup but were considered the best team of that era. All of Kocsis goals came at one world cup and he was of course the top scorer in 1954. He scored two hat tricks during the tournament, the first player to ever do that. Both hat tricks came in the group stage – in the 9-0 win over Korea and the famous 8-3 win over West Germany. Kocsis added two more in the quarter final 4-2 win over Brazil, and another two in the 4-2 win over Uruguay in the Semi’s. Kocsis scored both goals in extra time, his final World Cup goals. He finished his international career with 75 goals in 68 matches. He died at the young age of 49, allegedly taking his own life.
12 Goals – Pele
Edison Arantes do Nascimento, or Pele, the man declared a national treasure by the Brazilian Government, and to many, the greatest soccer player ever. He is Brazil’s all time leading scorer with 77 goals in 92 caps and is the only player to be part of three World Cup winning teams. He missed most of the 1962 World Cup but was awarded a gold medal by FIFA in 2007. Pele made a lot of first in 1958. He became the youngest player to score in the World Cup, scoring the winner in the 1-0 quarter finals win over Wales, the youngest to score a hat trick in the 5-2 Semi Final win over France, scoring all his goals in the second half, and they youngest player to play in the World Cup finals, scoring two in the 5-2 win over hosts Sweden, Brazil’s first World Cup win. In the 1962 World Cup held in Chile Pele started with a goal in the first game against Mexico but was injured in the second match and didn’t play again in the tournament. Brazil won anyway. Pele scored in the opening match of the 1966 World Cup, a 2-0 win over Bulgaria, but didn’t score again, as Brazil were knocked out with two group stage losses to Portugal and Hungary. In 1970 came his final triumph, scoring four goals in what is considered by many the greatest national team ever. Brazil swept through the Group stage with Pele scoring three goals in two games, but kept his final World Cup goal for the most important moment – the Final against Italy. Pele scored the opener, with Brazil eventually winning 4-1 and becoming the first team to win three World Cups and keep the trophy.Pele is one of only two playes to score a goal in four different World Cups, the other being Germany’s Uwe Seeler, also in the 1958-1970 period.
13 Goals – Just Fontaine
Justo, Just Fontaine, the France player born in Morocco, and the scorer of the most goals in a single World Cup tournament – 13 in the 1958 World Cup. Fontaine won the golden boot in 1958 of course, scoring 13 goals in six matches, scoring in every match he played. He scored a hat trick in the first game, a 7-3 win over Paraguay. He scored two in a 3-2 loss to Yugoslavia and another goal in the 2-1 win over Scotland. France made it to the Quarter Finals, with Fontaine scoring two in the 4-0 win over Northern Ireland. France lost to Brazil 5-2 in the Semi’s but Fontaine still managed to score one. His greatest accomplishment came in the third place match against West Germany. France beat the defending champions 6-3, with Fontaine scoring four goals.
14 Goals – Gerd Muller and Miroslav Klose
The last German on this list, Gerd Muller, bomber der Nation. Muller won the World Cup with West Germany in 1974, scoring four goals, but 1970 was better World Cup for him personally, scoring 10 goals, reaching the Semi Final. Muller scored in all three group stage matches – one in the 2-1 win over Morocco, a hat trick in the 5-2 win over Bulgaria and another hat trick in the 3-1 win over Peru. Muller scored the extra time winner in the 3-2 Quarter Final win over England and his last two in the amazing 4-3 loss to Italy in the Semi Finals. West Germany equalized in the 90th minute to send the game into extra time. The Germans went up 2-1 by Muller in the 94th minute, but Burginch equalized in the 98th. Riva put Italy 3-2 up in the 104th minute but Muller equalized six minutes later. Rivera scored the winner for Italy a minute later. In 1974, hosted in West Germany, Muller scored only one in the group stage, in the 3-0 win over Australia. In the second group stage Muller scored in two of three matches, helping West Germany to the final. He saved his final World Cup goal for the final against Holland. Holland went 1-0 up after only two minutes, but Breitner equalized in the 25 minute and Muller scored the winner just before half time, giving the Germans their second World Cup .Muller is Germany’s all time leading scorer, with 68 goals in 62 caps.
Miroslav Klose, born in Poland and member of the German national team is the second player with 14 World Cup goals. Klose has played in three World Cups, 2002, 2006 and 2010, scoring five goals in the first twoeach and also winning the golden boot in the 2006 World Cup that took place in Germany. He is the only player to score five+ goals in consecutive World Cups. In 2002 he started with a hat trick against Saudi Arabia in Germany’s 8-0 win, one in the 1-1 draw with Ireland and another one in Germany’s 2-0 win over Cameroon. Germany made it to the finals but Klose didn’t score another goal in the tournament. In 2006 he opened with a couple of goals against Costa Rica (4-2 win) and another two in the 3-0 win over Ecuador. In the Quarter Finals Klose scored the equalizing goal against Argentina, sending the game into extra time and a penalty shootout which Germany won. They got knocked out in the Semi’s by Italy. In 2010, Klose scored once in the group stage against Australia, once against England in the round of 16 and twice against Argentina in the quarter final. The road stopped again in the Semi Final against Spain.
Number 1 – 15 Goals – Ronaldo
Today mostly known to many as “fat” Ronaldo, some forget that Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima was the finest scoring machine in the world during parts of the late 90’s and earlier this decade. He was part of the 1994 Cup winning team but didn’t get to play. In 1998, at the age of 21, he was considered by many to be the best player in the world. He scored only one goal in the group stage, but made an impressive performance in the round of 16, scoring two goals against Chile, winning 4-1. Brazil beat Denmark 3-2 in the quarter final in a great game without Ronaldo scoring, but he came through in the semi final against Holland, scoring the goal for Brazil in a match that ended 1-1 after 120 minutes. He scored the first penalty for Brazil, who went on to the finals. What happened in the 24 hours before the finals is stuff of speculation and rumors. Did he have a fit? Did Nike force him to play? It doesn’t matter, Brazil lost 3-0 to France, and Ronaldo went on to years of injuries and misfortune. Than came 2002 in Japan and Korea. Brazil started with a 2-1 win over Turkey as Ronaldo scored the equalizer for Brazil. He scored again in the 4-0 win over China, and two more in the 5-2 win over Costa Rica. Brazil beat Belgium 2-0 in the round of 16, Ronaldo scoring one again. In the quarter final Brazil beat England 2-1 but Ronaldo did not score. He scored the only goal in the 1-0 win over Turkey in the Semi Final and his best came in the Final against Germany, scoring two second half goals, winning the game and the fifth World Cup for Brazil. Ronaldo won the golden boot with 8 goals in the tournament. In 2006 he was criticized for being fat and slow, but he did score two goal in one game against Japan, tying him with Gerd Muller as the best scorers of all time in the World Cups and the 20th player to score a goal in three different World Cups. He passed Muller in the round of 16 win over Ghana. Brazil lost to France 1-0 in the quarter final. Ronaldo is also one of only two players (Klinsmann being the other) to score at least three goals in three different World Cups.