In this edition of the FIFA World Cup specials, we take a look at the players who scored the most number of goals in a given quadrennial tournament thereby securing the competition’s most prestigious individual award. However, to make the list fairer in light of the number of teams each past winner faced in the given competition, we are only considering the tournaments from 1994 onwards.
Over the 88 years of FIFA World Cup existence, several players have topped the scoring charts in each competition and these players have usually also had close to perpetual goal bouts or regular scorers in their club careers.
With the introduction of more teams in the ’90s in the FIFA competitions and more stages within, it seemingly has been tougher for any attackers to gain the most goals with every edition. However, each world cup since 1994 does have seen at least one top scorer. Though all of the winners have been the golden boot recipient with less than ten goals. Take a look at the rundown of who in the recent world cups emerged as the player to find the net most and how did their goals help their respective teams in the given FIFA World Cup.
Oleg Salenko And Hristo Stoichkov – 1994
This world cup on North American soil was the last FIFA tournament that saw two players sharing the golden boot award.
Oleg Salenko scored six times in less than three matches during the group-stage games for Russia. His majority of goals (five) came in a single match against Cameroon. Before that Salenko had scored a penalty against Sweden though that came in a losing cause. Oleg is the only player to win the top scorer award playing for a team that didn’t get past the group stage. Also, the six goals he registered for his country were the only ones he scored for the national side in his entire international career.
On the other hand, Salenko’s at-the-time top scorer rival, Hristo Stoichkov achieved his goal tally by scoring in each one of the knock-out duels to help his nation Bulgaria reach the semi-finals, their best-ever run the entire FIFA tournaments.
Davor Suker – 1998
In the ’98 edition of the FIFA World Cup, Croatian football hero Davor Suker scored against some of the big names of the FIFA competition en route to his golden boot title.
In the 16th edition of the FIFA World Cup competitions in France, Suker scored against the likes of Germany, the eventual champion, France, and Argentina among others.
Ronaldo – 2002
After a heartbreaking final loss four years ago in France, Ronaldo would have a redemption run in the next edition of the 2002 FIFA World Cup where he not only just became the golden boot winner or won the tournament itself but also scored the decisive goals in the final against Germany.
He opened up his Korea/Japan goal tally by first scoring four in three group games followed by one in the round of 16 against Belgium and one more in the semi-finals against Turkey. His final two goals of the competition were in the showdown match against Germany. His eight is the record tally for a player who has scored more than six goals at a 32-team World Cup since 1978.
In the next world cup in 2006, Ronaldo would score three more thereby making him the then-FIFA competition’s highest scorer which was later broken by Miroslav Kose in 2014.
Miroslav Klose – 2006
Not only is he the former golden boot winner but also the all-time top scorer of the FIFA World Cup competitions with 16 goals he scored during three world cup events.
His five goals during the 2006 World Cup on his home soil in Germany were enough to win him the top scorer award of that edition. During the course of the next two tournaments (2010 and 2014), Klose would become the player with the most goals ever in the entire FIFA World Cup.
Thomas Mueller – 2010
At the 2010 South African World Cup, the then 20-year-old German attacking midfielder shared the top scorer position with Spain’s David Villa, Netherlands’ Wesley Sneijder, and Uruguay’s Diego Forlan. Mueller, however, was the award’s ultimate winner by the virtue of more assists he provided to his teammates than his rivals.
He was an essential piece of the German team that reached the semifinals of the world cup in Africa. Furthermore, still, an active member of the German national football squad, his overall goal tally in the FIFA World Cup currently stands at 10 which he netted whilst playing in the franchise’s three competitions.
James Rodriguez – 2014
Rodriguez’s performance in the 2014 FIFA World Cup was something that not even Real Madrid could stop themselves from buying the Colombian attacking striker.
With his six goals in the tournament, James in Brazil became the winner of the competition’s golden boot and the first-ever Colombian to win it. Among his all goals in the tournament, one was the iconic volley that he scored against Uruguay in the last 16. The match’s conclusion saw his nation progress to the quarterfinals for the first time in their history.
Harry Kane – 2018
The England and Tottenham forward, Harry Kane is the latest FIFA World Cup golden boot winner. After winning the award, Kane became the second Englishman to clinch the title after ex-England skipper Gary Lineker won it in the 1986 edition.
Kane’s overall goal tally in the tournament that took place in Russia was six although his goal count stopped after the event’s last 16. Three of the total goals, the Walthamstow-born scored from the spot. Included in his goal tally was the hat trick he scored against Panama in the group stage.
Before the FIFA event, Kane had become the Premier League top scorer in three consecutive seasons preceding the event in Russia. Kane is also one of the leading contenders to win the award this world cup.
- Handling a formal top scorer award to the player started only in 1982. However, the winners before that are also considered the Golden Boot winner.
- The distinction was called Golden Shoe from 1982 to 2006. In 2010, FIFA changed it to Golden Boot.
- Until 1994, only goals were considered to win the golden boot winner; thus there was more than one top scorer award winner. After that, FIFA put other tiebreakers to make one definitive winner in the case of more than one player being the highest scorer.
- France’s Just Fontaine the top scorer of the 1958 FIFA World Cup remains the player that scored the most in a given tournament,13 in a single FIFA World Cup event.