The 2023 FIFA World Cup may go down as the greatest in history. Prior to the tournament getting underway, tournament organizers came in for criticism for a number of reasons, ranging from alleged bribery to the conditions of the workers that built the stadiums in Qatar. And even once the tournament got underway, not everyone was convinced.
There were a record-breaking five goalless draws in the opening week of the tournament alone. If we compare that to four years ago, there was just one 0-0 stalemate and that came after almost two weeks of competition. But the quality of football undoubtedly got better as the tournament progressed.
Meanwhile, OddsChecker, which provides football odds and free bets, had made Brazil the favourites for glory in the desert this winter. But their tournament came to a crashing halt in the quarterfinals when they were defeated by Croatia on penalties. That opened the door for their great rivals Argentina, and specifically their captain Lionel Messi, to write his name into the history books.
The little magician scored two goals in an epic final against France to take the famous gold trophy back to the streets of Buenos Aires for the first time since the days of Argentina. The French – who were looking to become the first nation to successfully retain the trophy since Pelé’s Brazil some 60 years ago – gave as good as they got in the Lusail Iconic Stadium showpiece, however. The brilliant Kylian Mbappé scored a spell-binding hat trick and became the leading scorer in World Cup finals in the process.
But in the end, it wasn’t enough, and it was Messi who etched his name into immortality as the greatest of all time.
The history of the World Cup
The first-ever FIFA World Cup was held in Uruguay in 1930. Thirteen teams participated, with Uruguay winning the tournament. It was the inaugural edition of the international soccer tournament, which has since become one of the most popular sporting events on the planet. The competition was organized by FIFA, the international governing body of soccer. The tournament was played in a round-robin format, with each team playing the other once. Uruguay defeated Argentina 4-2 in the final to become the first-ever world champions. This victory marked the beginning of a long and successful era for the South American nation in international soccer.
The FIFA World Cup is the biggest sporting event in the world and is watched by millions of football fans around the globe. Every four years, the best teams and players from around the world compete for the coveted trophy. Throughout its history, the tournament has seen some of the greatest players in the history of the sport, and many of them have left an indelible mark on the tournament. Here is a look at some of the top goalscorers in the history of the FIFA World Cup and their impressive performances.
1. Miroslav Klose
Miroslav Klose of Germany is the highest goalscorer in World Cup history with 16 goals. He scored five goals in the 2002 tournament, five in the 2006 tournament, four in South Africa in 2010, and two in Brazil in 2014. He is also the all-time top scorer for Germany with 71 goals in 137 appearances.
Klose completed his journey with Die Mannschaft as he helped his nation win the tournament in 2014. That year, they would thrash hosts Brazil 7-1 in the semifinals, before defeating their great rivals Argentina in the final in the Estádio do Maracanã to lift their first World Cup since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Ronaldo of Brazil is the second most prolific goalscorer in the history of the tournament. He scored 15 goals between 1998 and 2006. He led the Seleção to back-to-back finals in 1998 and 2002. The first of those would end in a heartbreaking defeat to France in Paris, a game in which the great striker made international headlines when he reportedly had a seizure before kick-off. But the former Real Madrid star would get his redemption four years later.
In 2002, he scored both goals in the final as Brazil defeated Germany 2-0 in Japan, securing the trophy for a record-breaking fifth time.
Between 1996 and 2003, Ronaldo was considered the greatest footballer on the planet. He won FIFA’s World Player of the Year award on three separate occasions during that time period. He also received the Golden Ball award in 1998 thanks to his spellbinding performances in France that year.
Unfortunately for Ronaldo, his time at the top of the sport was cut short due to injury issues, and one has to wonder how many goals he may have scored had his body been able to handle the pressures of modern football.
3. Gerd Müller
Gerd Müller of Germany is the third all-time leading goalscorer in the World Cup with 14 goals.
Most impressively, the Bayern Munich icon’s goals came across just two tournaments in 13 fixtures. His 14 goals in 13 games give him a strike rate of better than a goal per game,
Muller was a key player in the German team and his goals helped them to their second World Cup title in 1974. That year, Muller scored four goals as his team reached the final. There, they would defeat the Netherlands by two goals to one in Munich to lift the trophy on home turf.
4. Lionel Messi
Last and certainly not least is Lionel Messi. The Paris Saint-Germain superstar headed to Qatar 2023 with just six World Cup goals to his name. But at the culmination of the tournament, he finished his career on football’s grandest stage with 13 goals to his name, as well as a World Cup winner’s medal and a second Golden Ball award.
This winter, Messi became the first player to score goals in the group stage, second round, quarter-final, semifinal, and final, in the same tournament. The Argentina captain was at his majestic best – despite being 35 years of age – as he led the Albiceleste to a second final in eight years, leaving the disappointing defeat against the Germans eight years ago firmly in the rearview mirror.
Messi and Argentina’s victory this year will send the great man down in the history books as the greatest footballer of all time. He will be 39 by the time the next World Cup rolls around, however, and it remains to be seen whether he will feature at football’s biggest party for a record-breaking sixth time.