Tournament big hitters: the leading goalscorers in the history of the FIFA World Cup

The 2022 World Cup has seen a whole host of scorers recording a range of stunning goals. Here is a look at the players who have made a name for themselves as top goalscorers across previous World Cups.

3. Gerd Muller (West Germany) – 14 goals

West Germany legend Gerd Muller is placed third on FIFA’s all-time list and second in Germany’s rankings.

His tally of 14 goals is made even more impressive by the fact that the prolific striker only played in two tournaments, in 1970 and 1974. Germany was victorious in the latter edition as the host nation, beating the Netherlands in the final with Muller scoring the decisive goal in a 2-1 victory.

While Muller boasts an incredible 68 goals in 62 caps for Die Mannschaft, his former side was in need of some serious firepower in Qatar.

Despite having FIFA 2022 World Cup betting odds of +900 to end up as winners, Germany was eliminated from the group stages for their second successive tournament.

Worse still, their top scorer recorded just two goals, far from the likes of Argentina’s Lionel Messi or France’s Olivier Giroud, who have World Cup Golden Boot odds of -125 and +1600, respectively.

Germany’s total was a lot less than Muller’s 14 goals in two tournaments, too, although that is still not enough to see him top this list.

2. Ronaldo Nazario (Brazil) – 15 goals

In second place is a player through which many fans fell in love with the game.

Ronaldo Nazario – or ‘Original’ Ronaldo, as he is often called – featured in the 1998, 2002, and 2006 World Cups. In 1998, the forward put his name on the map with impressive performances throughout the competition.

However, his lackluster display in the final against France – after initially being absent from Brazil’s starting line-up – overshadowed a fine tournament for Ronaldo, as the Canarinha’s 3-0 defeat meant they would have to wait another four years for World Cup glory.

In 2002, however, Ronaldo would play a key part in both the nation’s and his own redemption story.

Having barely played any football since rupturing his cruciate ligament in April 2000, Brazil’s number 9 went on to score against all but one opponent in South Korea and Japan, as his goal and now infamous haircut saw Brazil defeat Germany 2-0 in the final.

Ronaldo himself claimed eight goals that tournament, which he added to with another three in 2006 when Brazil crashed out to eventual finalists France in the quarter-finals.

1. Miroslav Klose (Germany) – 16 goals

Ronaldo held the record for most goals scored at a FIFA World Cup until June 2014, when Miroslav Klose first equaled then bettered the tally of the Brazil legend.

Despite being on target in such a late edition of the tournament, Klose’s total of 16 goals spans nearly 12 years, with the prolific striker representing Germany at the 2002, 2006, 2010, and 2014 World Cups.

Klose announced himself on the international scene in 2002, scoring five headed goals for Germany to become the tournament’s second-highest goalscorer alongside Rivaldo.

That same tally was enough to take home the Golden Boot on home soil in 2006 before four goals in South Africa in 2010 pulled him level with the aforementioned record held by Gerd Muller.

In the twilight stages of his career, Klose was on target twice in Brazil in 2014, equalizing against Ghana in the group stage before scoring the second in Germany’s infamous 7-1 demolition of the hosts.

Klose added to the individual feat of becoming the World Cup’s leading-ever goalscorer with his first-ever World Cup trophy after Germany defeated Argentina 1-0 after extra time in the final.

With the astounding tallies recorded across many years, it seems unlikely that any player will get near these numbers any time soon.

This shows how the modern game has developed, though, shifting from a focus on individual brilliance to one of team performance, as Qatar 2022 has showcased a number of supreme team goals.