The Golden Boot race for the competition’s top scorer is set to provide a fascinating subplot to the 2022 FIFA World Cup, with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo taking part in what looks to be their last major tournament.
The duo, who at 35 and 37 are now firmly in the twilight of their careers, should be among the main contenders to top the Qatar goalscoring charts as the two try to lay claim to what has so far proven to be an elusive. first World Cup trophy.
The pair have shared accolades as the best players of their generation, if not of all time, for more than a decade, and they will head to the Middle East with Argentina and Portugal, respectively, to fly to the star again.
They won’t be alone, however, with the likes of Brazilian striker Neymar, French superstar Kylian Mbappe and Russia 2018 winner England’s Harry Kane all likely to be in the game.
It remains to be seen who will emerge victorious, but one thing is certain: whoever succeeds will etch their name in the illustrious history books of the World Cup.
MORE: World Cup hat-tricks: The players who scored three or more times in the final?
All-time World Cup Golden Boot winners
The battle for the Golden Boot is always eagerly awaited at the World Cup, with a curious record of no player having won it more than once in men’s football.
Two former winners will be looking to change that in Qatar, with Germany’s Thomas Muller and England captain Kane among the main contenders.
|Tournament||Golden Boot winner||Country||Goals|
|Uruguay 1930||Guillermo Stabile||Argentina||8|
|Italy 1934||Oldrich Nejedley||Czechoslovakia||5|
|Switzerland 1954||Sandor Kocsis||Hungary||11|
|Sweden 1958||Just Fountain||France||13|
|Chile 1962||Garrincha, Vava, Leonel Sanchez, Florian Albert, Drazan Jerkovic, Valentin Ivanov||Brazil, Brazil, Chile, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Soviet Union||4|
|Mexico 1970||Gerd Muller||West Germany||ten|
|West Germany 1974||Grzegorz Lato||Poland||seven|
|Argentina 1978||Mario Kempes||Argentina||6|
|Spain 1982||Paul Rossi||Italy||6|
|Mexico 1986||Gary Lineker||England||6|
|Italy 1990||Salvatore Schillachi||Italy||6|
|United States 1994||Oleg Salenko, Hristo Stoichkov||Russia, Bulgaria||6|
|France 1998||Davor Sucker||Croatia||6|
|South Korea/Japan 2002||Ronaldo||Brazil||8|
|Germany 2006||Miroslav Klose||Germany||5|
|South Africa 2010||Thomas Muller||Germany||5|
|Brazil 2014||James Rodriguez||Colombia||6|
|Russia 2018||Harry Kane||England||6|
Players with the most goals in a single World Cup
Scoring more than 10 goals in a single tournament has proven too far a feat for any player since 1970, with the average dropping to six per tournament since the turn of the century.
|Rank||Last name||Country||Tournament||Goals scored in a single tournament||Overall World Cup goals|
|1||Just Fountain||France||Sweden 1958||13||13|
|2||Sandor Kocsis||Hungary||Switzerland 1954||11||11|
|3||Gerd Muller||West Germany||Mexico 1970||ten||14|
|5||Guillermo Stabile||Argentina||Uruguay 1930||8||8|
|5||Ronaldo||Brazil||Japan/South Korea 2002||8||15|
|8||Grzegorz Lato||Poland||West Germany 1974||seven||ten|
Players with the most goals in World Cup history
The World Cup top scorers list is dominated by top European and South American players, with no player outside of those two continents making the top 10.
|Rank||Last name||Country||World Cup goals||Matches played||Tournament appearances||Goals per game|
|1||Miroslav Klose||Germany||16||24||2002, 2006, 2010, 2014||0.67|
|2||Ronaldo||Brazil||15||19||1994*, 1998, 2002, 2006||0.79|
|3||Gerd Muller||West Germany||14||13||1970, 1974||1.08|
|5||Pele||Brazil||12||14||1958, 1962, 1966, 1970||0.86|
|6||Jurgen Klinsmann||West Germany/Germany||11||17||1990, 1994, 1998||0.65|
|8||Helmut Rahn||West Germany||ten||ten||1954, 1958||1.00|
|8||Gary Lineker||England||ten||12||1986, 1990||0.83|
|8||Gabriel Batistuta||Argentina||ten||12||1994, 1998, 2002||0.83|
|8||Teofilo Cubillas||Peru||ten||13||1970, 1978, 1982**||0.77|
|8||Thomas Muller||Germany||ten||16||2010, 2014, 2018**||0.63|
|8||Grzegorz Lato||Poland||ten||20||1974, 1978, 1982||0.50|
* Named to the World Cup squad but did not make an appearance
** Competed in the World Cup but did not score a goal
Most goals scored in a World Cup game
The 1994 World Cup Golden Boot race continued the pattern of back-to-back tournaments where the award was won by six goals, with Russian star Oleg Salenko and Bulgarian icon Hristo Stoichkov sharing the prize in the United States.
However, the tournament still holds the record for the most goals scored by a single player in a match.
Salenko scored five goals in Russia’s 6-1 Group B win over Cameroon in their final group stage match, but it wasn’t enough to secure a place in the last 16. final.