The first-ever FIFA World Cup was held in 1930. It was hosted in Uruguay, and the home team won after defeating Argentina by a score of 4-2 in the final. Guillermo Stábile of Argentina scored eight goals in four games, including one in the final, and is tied for 24th all-time in that regard. No other player in the Top 30 has played fewer than five games.
The Top 5 scorers of all-time at the FIFA World Cup include four players who have played at least a dozen games and one who has played only six. Read on for a closer look.
1. Miroslav Klose
Presently serving as manager of Bayern München’s Youth B Club, Miroslav Klose is best known for his unmatched goal-scoring ability in the FIFA World Cup. The 41-year-old native of Germany scored 16 goals in 24 matches through four tournaments. He last represented his country at the 2014 FIFA World Cup and scored a pair of goals, including one in Germany’s 7-1 semi-final victory over Brazil. Germany defeated Argentina in the final to give Klose the first World Cup victory of his career and the first for his home country since 1990.
One of Klose’s best performances came at the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Although the tournament was won by Italy, which defeated Germany in the semi-finals, Klose scored a tournament-leading five goals. No other player had more than three goals. He scored five and four goals, respectively, at the 2002 and 2010 World Cup.
In addition to his impressive performances on the international stage, Klose scored 121 goals in 307 Bundesliga matches and 14 in 39 Champions League matches. He ended his playing career in Italy and scored 54 goals in 139 games with Lazio Roma.
Known only as Ronaldo, this Brazilian center forward’s career spanned from 1993 to 2011, during which time he participated in three FIFA World Cup tournaments, scoring 15 goals in 19 games for a goal-per-match ratio of 0.79. He scored four goals in seven games at the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France but was held off the score sheet in the final against the host country, who won 3-0. However, four years later, Ronaldo scored eight goals in seven games and was awarded the Golden Boot for scoring the most goals in the tournament. He scored two of his eight goals in Brazil’s 2-0 finals victory over Germany.
Ronaldo began his career with the Brazilian club Cruzeiro and later played in the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, and finished with Corinthians in Brazil. In club matches, he scored the bulk of his 293 goals with Real Madrid in Spain. He last played in 2011.
3. Gerd Müller
Gerd Müller’s 14 career goals at the FIFA World Cup may rank third all-time, but he scored those goals in just 13 games, giving him a better goals-per-match ratio (1.08) than both Ronaldo and Klose (.067). The German was the top scorer at the 1970 World Cup, where he scored 10 goals in only six games, and helped his home country win the 1974 World Cup with four goals in seven games. His international resume also includes 29 goals in 31 friendlies, nine goals in six World Cup qualifying matches, and 12 goals in 10 EURO qualifying matches.
Müller, who is also a two-time Player of the Year in Germany, earned top-scoring distinction in the Champions League in 1972-73, 73-74, 74-75, and 76-77. He also earned the honor seven times in Bundesliga as a member of Bayern München.
4. Just Fontaine
Just Fontaine scored 13 goals in six matches for France at the 1958 World Cup. With a 2.07 goals-per-match ratio, he is surpassed by just one other player among those who have scored at least five goals in the FIFA World Cup.
Unsurprisingly, Fontaine was the top scorer in the tournament. Despite his unprecedented scoring ability in the tournament, France lost 5-2 to Brazil in the semi-final. Fontaine scored four goals in his country’s 6-3 victory over Germany in the third-place game, however.
Fontaine was also a two-time top scorer in France’s Ligue 1 with Stade Reims and he led the Champions League in scoring in 1958-59. His playing career ended in 1962 and he later managed the French clubs Paris Saint-Germain and Toulouse FC.
Named the greatest football player of all-time in a 2018 poll conducted by OnePoll, Pelé is considered one of the sport’s first superstars. He was just 17 years old when he played for Brazil at the 1958 World Cup and nonetheless scored six goals in four matches, including two in the country’s 5-2 finals victory over Sweden. He scored one goal in each of the next two World Cups and four in the 1970 World Cup, which was also won by Brazil. Combined, he scored 12 goals in 14 matches and was part of three World Cup-winning teams. He last played in 1977 with the New York Cosmos.