These World Cup top scorers have all netted 10 or more goals in soccer's biggest event.
1. Miroslav Klose – 16 goals
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Miroslav Klose has played in four tournaments and beat Ronaldo's record with a low effort against Brazil in the 2014 World Cup semi-final. His World Cup highlights include a hat trick at his debut tournament in Korea/Japan against Saudi Arabia and a runners-up medal against Ronaldo’s Brazil in 2006. One of the game's ultimate poachers.
2. Ronaldo – 15 goals
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For more than a decade Ronaldo was Brazil’s hitman. Unrivaled power, pace to frighten any defense and ruthlessness in front of goal that many looked at in awe; Ronaldo was the all-round package. Not only is he the World Cup's second top goalscorer, but his list of honors reads more like a bibliography, having set the world alight at Inter Milan
and Real Madrid
, to name but three.
3. Gerd Muller – 14 goals
Another German goalscoring legend makes up the top three. Der Bomber, as he was known, sits level with fellow countryman Klose on 14, a tally that saw him top the tables for World Cup goalscorers for a 32-year period before Ronaldo broke it in 2006. Muller’s career record is staggering, but it comes as no surprise given his quality. It took someone as special as Lionel Messi
to beat his record of scoring 85 goals in one calendar year.
4. Just Fontaine – 13 goals
Frenchman Fontaine’s record of 13 goals in World Cups is a unique one, given they all came in one edition; Sweden 1958. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that Fontaine’s club career was epitomized by his goalscoring prowess. Despite never breaking away from the French leagues, Fontaine was renowned as one of the most lethal strikers in Europe, and will continue to grace World Cup records for a very long time.
5. Pele – 12 goals
Little needs to be said of Pele, other than his 12 World Cup goals helped inspire what is hailed as the greatest Brazil side of all time to three tournament victories. Edison Arantes do Nascimento was a genius on the ball, a marvel for his side, and someone who, to many, remains the greatest soccer player
to have ever lived. His skill was typical of a Brazilian, but his ingenuity and subtlety was a joy to behold and something that we may never see again, despite what is said of a certain Lionel Messi.
6. Jurgen Klinsmann – 11 goals
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Klinsmann was notorious for more than his goals, as his famous diving celebration has etched itself on modern football. Klinsmann remains the third highest capped player by Germany with 108, and his 47 goals were instrumental in a period when West Germany were a dominant force. You only need to ask Gareth Southgate and England. Amongst his honors lie a World Cup and a European Championship. Klinsmann was a proven goalscorer who went on to manage the national team in the 2006 finals on home soil.
7. Sandor Kocsis – 11 goals
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Hungarian legend Sandar Kocsis tragically passed away at the age of just 49, but not before he had stamped his mark on football. He was part of the Hungarian side of the 1950s known as the Mighty Magyars, which included the likes of Ferenc Puskas and Zoltan Czibor. With 75 goals in 68 games for his country, Kocsis is worthy of appearing in any World XI, even more so because he was the top scorer in the 1954 finals with 11 including two hat tricks. After hanging up his well-seasoned boots, Kocsis turned his hand to management before his life was cut short by leukemia and stomach cancer.
8. Gabriel Batistuta – 10 goals
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Batigol, as he is so affectionately known, was a gentle giant and profilic goalscorer for Argentina. His tall frame and agricultural facial hair was a contrast to his graceful, elegant style on the field, and his numbers certainly do his quality justice. Ten goals in World Cups, 56 overall for his country, and a mammoth 168 for Fiorentina made him one of the most feared forwards in the world during his time. Even in his final venture as a footballer, in Qatar with Al Arabi, did he continue to cut the mustard. Batigol was a superstar for La Albiceleste and a constant fixture on my bedroom wall.
9. Gary Lineker – 10 goals
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It seems a long time ago that Gary Lineker was leading England’s front line, but Match of the Day’s favorite son should not be forgotten about. Graham Taylor might have done his best to keep him from the limelight, but it was rare that Lineker wasn’t the talk of the town when in an England shirt. He is England’s greatest ever World Cup goalscorer with ten and was an incredibly disciplined player to boot; during his 18-year career Lineker was never cautioned by a referee for foul play, prompting FIFA to award him with the Fair Play Award in 1990. Lineker ended his international career with 48 goals and promptly went on to eat a lot of crisps.
10. Helmut Rahn – 10 goals
Helmut Rahm becomes the fourth German to appear on our list, with ten World Cup goals, one of which came in the 1954 final against Hungary. Known as Der Boss, Rahm’s club career spanned 14 years and he never ventured outside of Germany. Nevertheless, he became a solid performer in the German leagues, although he ended his career with just four honors.
11. Teofilo Cubillas – 10 goals
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Teofilo Juan Cubillas Arizaga scored 26 goals for Peru, of which ten came in World Cups. Cubillas was named as Peru’s greatest ever player by an international poll, which also named him in the world’s top 50. A small man, who could play either up front or behind the strikers, Cubillas was typical of South American players; tricky, pacy and able to score a wide variety of goals. Sadly, Peru have seldom witnessed such a talented player since.
12. Grzegorz Lato – 10 goals
Polish legend Grzegorz Lato completes the list, but is by no means the least of the twelve. Lato plied his trade throughout the ‘70s and ‘80's, scoring 45 goals for Poland including ten in World Cups. He played a major role in Poland finishing 3rd in the 1974 and 1982 editions and remains a keen ambassador for the Polish game now that his playing days have long come to an end.