World Cup winners: Every country to be crowned world champions

World Cup winners: France goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris lifts the trophy during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Final between France and Croatia at Luzhniki Stadium on July 15, 2018 in Moscow, Russia.
France were 2018's World Cup winners (Image credit: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Who will be the next World Cup winners? This year's World Cup will be the 21st edition of international football's most prestigious tournament – and, over the course of the previous 20, eight nations have got their hands on the trophy.

Some have done it among familiar surroundings on home soil; others have triumphed far from home, often spoiling the host nation's party in the process.

But all of them have been able to call themselves champions of the world – most of them on multiple occasions, in fact.

With World Cup 2022 on the horizon, FourFourTwo takes you through all of the previous winners – seven of whom will be present in Qatar this winter.

Uruguay (1930, 1950)

The greatest show in international football got underway 92 years ago in Uruguay – where the hosts went all the way, beating arch-rivals Argentina 4-2 in the final to become the first-ever world champions.

Twenty years later, Uruguay went and did it again – and this time they caused quite an upset, famously shocking hosts Brazil in the final group stage (this was the only World Cup without a one-off final match) to get their hands on the Jules Rimet Trophy for the second time.

Italy (1934, 1938, 1982, 2006)

Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro lifts the trophy after Italy beat France on penalties to win the 2006 World Cup at the Olympiastadion in Berlin, Germany on July 9, 2006.

Fabio Cannavaro lifts the trophy after Italy won the 2006 World Cup (Image credit: Sampics/ Corbis via Getty Images)

Four years after Uruguay's inaugural triumph, Italy became the first European nation to be crowned champions of the world – also marching to glory on home soil, where they defeated Czechoslovakia 2-1 after extra time in the final.

They retained their crown in 1938, beating Hungary 4-2 in Paris after knocking out hosts France in the semi-finals.

Legendary striker Paolo Rossi inspired the Azzurri to World Cup triumph number three at the 1982 tournament in Spain, scoring six of his country's 12 goals – including the opener in their 3-1 final victory over West Germany.

Italy's most recent success came in 2006 as they got the better of France on penalties in that final (Zinedine Zidane, Marco Materazzi and all that).

The reigning European champions won't be able to join Brazil on five titles this time around, though, having failed to qualify thanks to a shock play-off loss to North Macedonia.

Germany (1954*, 1974*, 1990*, 2014)

Philipp Lahm, captain of Germany holds the trophy and celebrate the victory with his teammates during the trophy presentation after the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Final match between Germany and Argentina at Estadio Maracana on July 13, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Philipp Lahm lifts the trophy after Germany won the 2006 World Cup (Image credit: Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

*as West Germany

The most successful European nation in World Cups, Germany first tasted glory in neighbouring Switzerland in 1954; they didn't do it the easy way in the final, however, coming from 2-0 down inside eight minutes to beat Hungary 3-2.

While they were close enough to home in 1954, they hosted the tournament in 1974; captain Frenz Beckenbauer held the new World Cup trophy aloft after Gerd Muller's goal clinched a 2-1 final triumph over the Netherlands.

Sixteen years later at Italia '90, Beckenbauer was in the dugout as the Germans beat Argentina 1-0 in the final through Andreas Brehme's 85th-minute penalty in Rome.

Germany's first World Cup success as a unified country came in 2014, when they stunningly obliterated hosts Brazil 7-1 in the last four – before Mario Gotze's goal deep into stoppage time clinched a 1-0 win over Argentina in the final.

Brazil (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002)

Brazil's forward Ronaldo (C), flanked by teammates, hoists the World Cup trophy during the award ceremony at the International Stadium Yokohama, Japan, on June 30 2002 following Brazil's 2-0 victory against Germany in the 2002 World Cup final

Ronaldo holds the trophy aloft after Brazil won the 2002 World Cup (Image credit: Odd Andersen/AFP via Getty Images)

There's one country whose name is more synonymous with the World Cup than any other: Brazil, perennial qualifiers (they're the only nation to have played in every edition) and record five-time winners. On top of that, they're World Cup 2022 favourites, too.

The Selecao's first triumph in 1958 remains their most famous: a 17-year-old forward by the name of Pele announced himself to the world, scoring six goals – including a brace in the final as Brazil thrashed hosts Sweden 5-2.

Pele missed most of the 1962 tournament in Chile through injury, but that didn't stop Brazil from going on to retain their crown – this time coming from behind to beat Czechoslovakia 3-1 in the final.

There was to be no third straight success in 1966 (more on that below), but they made it three triumphs from four tournaments in Mexico four years later; Pele scored what would be his last World Cup goal, sending the Selecao on their way to a 4-1 final win over Italy (Mario Zagallo, a member of Brazil's 1958 and 1962 squads, became the first person to win the World Cup as both a player and manager).

Brazil would endure their longest World Cup drought after that, not lifting the famous trophy (well, the trophy we know today as they kept the Jules Rimet after that third triumph) again until USA 94 – when Roberto Baggio's (in)famous penalty miss saw Italy defeated in a shootout following the only 0-0 draw in World Cup final history. 

After finishing as runners-up to hosts France in 1998, Brazil, won their fifth – and most recent – World Cup at the 2002 tournament in Japan and South Korea, where Ronaldo stole the show and secured success with a second-half brace against Germany in the final.

England (1966)

England captain Bobby Moore receives the Jules Rimet trophy after England beat West Germany 4-2 after extra time in the 1966 World Cup final at Wembley Stadium, London on July 30, 1966.

Bobby Moore receives the Jules Rimet trophy from Queen Elizabeth II (Image credit: AFP via Getty Images)

Gareth Southgate's semi-finalists went some way to easing the pain in Russia four years ago, but it's now been 56 years of hurt for England.

Alf Ramsey masterminded the Three Lions' greatest triumph, secured through that iconic 4-2 win over West Germany in the final at Wembley.

Geoff Hurst – who remains the only player to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final – ultimately sealed it with two goals in extra time (the first of which definitely crossed the line, ok).

Argentina (1978, 1986)

Diego Maradona holds the World Cup trophy after Argentina defeated West Germany 3-2 in the 1986 World Cup final at the Azteca Stadium, Mexico City on June 29, 1986.

Diego Maradona holds the trophy after Argentina won the 1986 World Cup (Image credit: Bongarts/Getty Images)

Argentina's World Cup successes of 1978 and 1986 were famous for very different reasons.

In 1978, La Albiceleste triumphed on home soil against the backdrop of a military coup, beating the Netherlands 3-1 after extra time in the final – which they reached by trouncing Peru 6-0, a result which prompted accusations of bribes.

Eight years later, they emerged victorious in one of the greatest finals of all time, Jorge Luis Burruchaga netting the decisive goal in a 3-2 win over Brazil (although a certain Diego Maradona ensured Argentina's 2-1 quarter-final defeat of England was more indelibly etched into history).

France (1998, 2018)

France's players (L-R) Marcel Desailly, Laurent Blanc and captain Didier Deschamps, holding the trophy, celebrate after their 3-0 victory over Brazil in the final of the 1998 FIFA World Cup. | Location: Saint-Denis, France.

(L-R) Marcel Desailly, Laurent Blanc and Didier Deschamps celebrate with the trophy after France won the 1998 World Cup (Image credit: acques Langevin/Sygma via Getty Images)

The last host nation to lift the World Cup, France – captained by future boss Didier – Deschamps made light work of Brazil in the 1998 final: Zinedine Zidane bagged a first-half brace, with Emmanuel Petit rounding off a 3-0 win in second-half stoppage time.

Under Deschamps, Les Bleus went all the way again in 2018, living up to their billing as pre-tournament favourites; they notched 11 goals in the knockout stages alone, defeating Croatia 4-2 in a thrilling final in the Moscow rain.

Spain (2010)

Spain goalkeeper and captain lifts the World Cup trophy after being handed it by Sepp Blatter, FIFA President and Jacob Zuma President of South Africa and surrounded by the Spanish team after victory in the World Cup Final match between Spain (1) and Netherlands (0) at the FNB Stadium on July 11, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa

Spain captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas lifts the trophy after winning the 2010 World Cup (Image credit: Simon Bruty/Anychance/Getty Images)

The dominant force in international football in the late 2000s and early 2010s – during which time they won three major tournaments in succession – Spain peaked at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa as they got their hands on the game's greatest prize for the very first time.

It's fair to say there have been better finals – but, with the game heading for penalties, up popped Andres Iniesta to send a nation into raptures (Spain also became the third side to win the World Cup after losing their opening match of the tournament).

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