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Who Has Scored The Most World Cup Goals?

Published on October 21, 2022
Updated on November 14, 2023
Sam
Written by Sam

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Who Has Scored The Most World Cup Goals?

Some players are renowned for upping their game in the biggest matches. A specific version of that is those who have saved their best performances for the World Cup.

The list of the leading World Cup goalscorers is a mix of all-time greats and players who happened to hit a purple patch at the right time, cementing their place in history. 

Of the 13 players to score 10 or more World Cup goals, eight have won a Golden Boot. 

This list could see a few additions after the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, with Luis Suarez, Harry Kane, Neymar and Lionel Messi all within striking distance. 

1. Miroslav Klose – 16 goals

Top scorer in 2006, Miroslav Klose was a consistent World Cup performer who can thank longevity for his place atop this list.

Klose played in 24 World Cup matches between 2002 and 2014, with Germany winning the competition in 2014, finishing as runners-up in 2002 and placing third in 2006 and 2010.

Only two other players have five or more goals at multiple World Cups.

Klose, a consistent performer at club level for Werder Bremen, Bayern Munich and Lazio, seemed to up his game when he pulled on the Mannschaft jersey. 

2. Ronaldo Nazário – 15 goals

Ronaldo Nazário had an extraordinary World Cup career, winning the tournament on two occasions and scoring 15 goals in 19 appearances.  

Recipient of the Golden Boot and Golden Ball in 2002, Ronaldo starred as Brazil won in South Korea and Japan. He was also part of the squad but didn’t play in their triumphant 1994 campaign. 

He was unstoppable in 1998, too, following his first Ballon d’Or win the year before, until a health scare before the final overshadowed his tournament as Brazil ultimately lost to France. 

At his peak, Ronaldo was the best player on the planet. Where others at that standard have failed to shine in the World Cup, the Rio de Janeiro native played much of his best football when the world was watching. 

3. Gerd Müller – 14 goals

Gerd Müller scored 10 of his 14 in the 1970 World Cup as he won the Best Young Player and Golden Boot.

Müller found the net four more times in 1974 before prematurely ending his international career following the tournament due to a fallout with the German Football Association about celebrations.

Winner of the Ballon d’Or in 1970, Müller finished his international career with more than a goal-per-game ratio alongside a spectacular club record with Bayern Munich. 

4. Just Fontaine – 13 goals

Of players to score five or more World Cup goals, only one has a better goals-per-game ratio than Just Fontaine. The Frenchman scored all 13 of his goals in an extraordinary six matches at the 1958 tournament. 

Four goals against West Germany were the highlight, but even with Fontaine’s heroics, France were eliminated at the semi-final stage. 

5. Pelé – 12 goals

To many, Pelé is the greatest footballer of all-time. While there is some debate about the Brazilian’s overall goal tally, there is no question of his 12 World Cup goals, scored in 14 appearances over four tournaments.

A three-time World Cup winner and with the record for the most assists in the tournament’s history, Pelé could have achieved even more if he didn’t miss the majority of Canarinho’s run to the final in 1962 after suffering an injury in the second group match. 

6. Sándor Kocsis – 11 goals

Sándor Kocsis has perhaps the greatest achievement of anyone on this list, scoring 11 goals in five World Cup matches for Hungary’s Mighty Magyars in 1954.

Kocsis is one of the greatest goalscorers in the history of the game, and finished his career with 75 in 68 caps.

Unsurprisingly, he was top scorer in 1954, with no other player finding the net more than six times. 

6. Jürgen Klinsmann – 11 goals

Appearing in three World Cups, Jürgen Klinsmann was a champion in 1990 prior to consecutive quarter-final exits in the USA and France.

Making 17 appearances overall, Klinsmann found the net three times on Germany’s route to the trophy in 1990 and added a further five in 1994.

He was named in the World Cup All-Star Team in 1990, and was German Footballer of the Year in 1994. 

8. Helmut Rahn – 10 goals

Winner of the 1954 World Cup with West Germany, Helmut Rahn scored his 10 goals across the 1954 and 1958 tournaments. The year of the latter, he was named Ballon d’Or runner-up to Raymond Kopa.

With only 21 international goals in his career, Rahn clearly saved his best for World Cups. 

8. Gary Lineker – 10 goals

England’s only World Cup Golden Boot winner prior to Harry Kane’s efforts in 2018, Gary Lineker scored six of his 10 in Mexico in 1986. 

The goal poacher turned presenter made only 12 appearances across the 1986 and 1990 tournaments before his international career ended in acrimonious fashion at Euro 92. 

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Sam
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