With the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar going on, the potency of signatory countries in front of the goal is seen as a crucial fact in winning the ‘Cup of Life.’ The competition is, after all, all about goals, as evidenced by the 2,548 goals scored across 21 World Cup editions. A total of 32 teams officially qualified for the 2022 World Cup including Qatar, Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, France, Spain, Netherlands and the US amongst the notable ones.

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Kylian Mbappe, and Robert Lewandowski, among many others, are expected to score for the much-coveted Golden Boot this year.  The current star athletes have a slew of yesteryear stars to look forward to and, if possible, outperform them. We look at five such names.

1.   Miroslav Klose (Germany)

Matches: 24

Goals: 16

Miroslav Klose leads the FIFA World Cup all-time goal-scoring list with 16 goals after appearing in four World Cups (2002, 2006, 2010, and 2014). The German scored his final World Cup goal at the age of 36.

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His first World Cup goal came in 2002 when he ended up scoring a hat-trick in Germany’s 8-0 thrashing of Saudi Arabia. Germany finished second in the event, with the striker coming second in the Golden Boot contest.

2. Ronaldo (Brazil) 

Matches: 19

Goals: 15

Ronaldo was regarded as the best striker of all time amongst modern-day greats when he led Brazil to their fifth World Cup victory in 2002, defeating Germany in the final. Ronaldo went on to score both goals in the 2-0 victory in Yokohama, Japan. He also won the Golden Boot with eight goals, as his duel against Germany’s Thomas Muller, who scored five goals, was the game’s main highlight.

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Ronaldo scored four goals in the 1998 World Cup, propelling Brazil to the final.

3.  Gerd Muller (Germany)

Matches: 13

Goals: 14

Gerd Muller is deemed to be one of the most famous and successful goal scorers in history, having scored 14 goals in two World Cups. Ten of them came in 1970 when Gerd managed to score two hat-tricks in the group stages in Mexico. Muller easily won the Golden Boot, but despite scoring a brace, West Germany was eliminated in the semifinals by Italy.

The dream of winning the World Cup in front of home fans was realised in the following edition, as Gerd scored four goals during the tournament, also with a goal against the Netherlands in the final, which the West Germans won 2-1 in Munich.

4.  Just Fontaine

6 matches

Goals: 13

Despite playing in only one World Cup, Just Fontaine established himself as one of France’s highest strikers, breaking Kocsis’s record for most goals in a single tournament by scoring 13 times in the 1958 World Cup. 

Fontaine scored in every game he played in, including a hat-trick against Paraguay and a quartet of goals against West Germany in the third-match play-off, which France won 6-3.

5. Pele (Brazil)

Matches: 14

Goals: 12

Pele scored six goals in his debut World Cup in 1958 in Sweden, including two in the World Cup final against the host nation, which Brazil won 5-2. 1966 was catastrophic for Pele and Brazil, as the two-time reigning champions were eliminated in the group stages in England, with Pele scoring only once. Pele, on the other hand, returned to the tournament in 1970, this time in Mexico, scoring four goals in Brazil’s third World Cup victory. The all-time great also scored in the final, which Brazil won 4-1 over Italy.

The race for the Golden Boot is always exciting, and this winter the world’s best-attacking players will compete for the ultimate personal prize, which England captain Harry Kane won in Russia in 2018. This time, Harry Kane from Russia, Kyalia Mbappe from France, Lionel Messi from Argentina, Cristiano Ronaldo from Portugal and Neymar from Brazil are some of the top strikers who might win the Golden Boot.