Top international scorers
The race for the Golden Boot is hotting up, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Denis Cheryshev, Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku, Mile Jedinak, Artem Dzyuba and Diego Costa having all scored more than once after the first week of action in Russia.
But who are the most prolific World Cup players when you take their entire careers into account? In this slideshow, we pick out the 18 stars competing this summer who have scored the most international goals… (Totals correct at end of play, Thu 21 Jun. Your goalscorer's totals may go up, but probably not down.)
17= Paolo Guerrero, Peru (34)
Guerrero looked set to miss out on the World Cup in Russia, but he was handed a late reprieve when Swiss Federal Tribunal suspended his doping ban until after the tournament. The former Bayern Munich striker didn’t start his country’s opening match, but he’ll still hope to add to the 34 goals he’s netted for Peru before the competition ends.
Guerrero’s first goal for Los Incas came back in 2004, the winner in a World Cup qualifier against Chile. After Peru ended a 36-year absence from the biggest stage by reaching Russia 2018, their star striker will be determined to make his mark.
17= Mohamed Salah, Egypt (34)
Salah didn’t look fully fit in Egypt’s 3-1 reverse against Russia, a result which eliminated them after just two matches. Such is their reliance on the 26-year-old, the Pharaohs will believe things could have been different had the Liverpool star not been carrying an injury heading into the tournament.
Salah scored the penalty which booked Egypt’s place at the 2018 World Cup, and he also netted a consolation goal from the spot against the hosts on Tuesday. He still has some way to go to catch Hossam Hassan (69) in the country’s all-time scoring standings, though.
16. David Silva, Spain (35)
Silva has always been more of a creator than a converter, but his scoring rate for his country is vastly superior to his record at club level: the ex-Valencia schemer averages a goal every 3.5 games for Spain, compared to one every 5.7 matches for Manchester City.
Silva was La Roja’s joint-top scorer in qualifying with five strikes, level with Isco, Diego Costa and Alvaro Morata. He’s also comfortably the leading goal-getter in Spain’s World Cup squad, with second-placed Andres Iniesta having netted just 14 times at international level.
15. Keisuke Honda, Japan (36)
Having previously been viewed as the great hope of Japanese football, Honda’s star has faded in recent years. Some even expected the 32-year-old to be left out of the 23-man squad for this summer’s tournament, and although he did ultimately make the cut Honda wasn’t included in the starting XI against Colombia.
The attacking midfielder has an excellent scoring record for his country, though, having struck on 36 occasions in his 94 appearances – including the winner against Syria en route to glory at the 2011 Asian Cup.
12= Thomas Muller, Germany (38)
Muller shot to prominence at the 2010 World Cup, scoring five goals to scoop the Golden Boot as a young Germany side reached the semi-finals. The Bayern Munich man notched another five as the Mannschaft triumphed in Brazil four years later, and he may now have designs on the all-time World Cup record of 16 held by compatriot Miroslav Klose.
Thirty-eight goals in 98 internationals is a fantastic return, particularly for a player who usually plays a support role in the line of three behind the centre-forward.
12= Sergio Aguero, Argentina (38)
Aguero has established himself as Jorge Sampaoli’s first-choice striker ahead of Gonzalo Higuain, and it was he who was responsible Argentina’s goal in the disappointing 1-1 draw with Iceland. The Manchester City man has now scored 38 times for the Albiceleste – more than Diego Maradona, Hernan Crespo and Higuain.
The majority of Aguero’s goals have come in friendlies, though, and he will be keen to add to his overall World Cup tally in Russia having failed to net in 2010 or 2014.
12= Romelu Lukaku, Belgium (38)
Lukaku scored twice in Belgium’s 3-0 defeat of Panama in their opening game, converting a header from Kevin De Bruyne’s outside-of-the-boot cross and a delightful dinked finish after Eden Hazard’s through-ball.
The Manchester United man was already his country's record goalscorer before the World Cup got under way, and at 25 years old he still has plenty of time to increase his lead ahead of second-placed Bernard Voorhoof (30).
11. Edinson Cavani, Uruguay (42)
Cavani has spent much of his international career playing second fiddle to Luis Suarez, with many of his 103 caps coming in a wide role as Oscar Tabarez has sought to build his team around the Barcelona man. The two strikers are of equal standing these days, though, and Cavani was by far the better performer in last Friday’s 1-0 victory over Egypt.
The Paris Saint-Germain sharp-shooter top-scored in South American qualifying, beating goalkeepers on 10 occasions as Uruguay finished second behind Brazil. That took his international total to 42, ahead of Hector Scarone and Diego Forlan – and behind only Suarez.
9= Blas Perez, Panama (43)
Despite losing 3-0 to Belgium, Panama didn’t disgrace themselves in their World Cup debut. Qualification for the competition is an achievement in itself for Hernan Gomez’s charges, whose failure to make it to Brazil 2014 seemed to spell the end for their so-called golden generation.
The same crop of players gave it one last go and succeeded four years later, with the 37-year-old Perez one of many Panama internationals in the autumn of his career. He’s been a fantastic servant for the Canal Men since making his debut in 2001, scoring 43 goals in 113 appearances.
9= Luis Tejada, Panama (43)
Tejada made his maiden World Cup appearance as a 73rd-minute substitute in Panama’s 3-0 loss to Belgium earlier this week. His limited time on the field meant he was always going to struggle to add to his international tally, which currently stands at 43 in goals in 104 games.
The 35-year-old is the Canal Men’s joint-record goal-getter, level with team-mate Perez – who was given the nod from the start against Belgium. It will be interesting to see if either striker is able to edge ahead in the scoring standings by notching in Russia.
8. Javier Hernandez, Mexico (49)
For a player who is usually seen as a fox in the box, Hernandez delivered a brilliant all-round centre-forward performance in Mexico’s shock 1-0 triumph over holders Germany. The West Ham man didn’t get on the scoresheet but he was terrific at the tip of El Tri’s formation, expertly dropping off the front to link the play – such as when he left Mats Hummels floundering in the build-up to Hirving Lozano's winner.
Scoring goals remains Hernandez’s raison d'etre, though, as his return of 49 strikes in 103 matches for Mexico demonstrates. The 30-year-old will be desperate to help his country through to the quarter-finals of a World Cup held on foreign soil for the first time in their history in the coming weeks.
6= Tim Cahill, Australia (50)
Cahill didn’t get off the bench in Australia’s 2-1 loss to France, but he’s still got at least two more chances to become only the fifth player (after Miroslav Klose, Uwe Seeler, Pele and Cristiano Ronaldo) to score at four different World Cups.
That would be a phenomenal achievement for a player who isn’t an out-and-out striker, even if his position has become more and more advanced as the years have gone on. Cahill’s 50 goals for the Socceroos place him comfortably above Damian Mori (29) and Archie Thompson (28) in the country’s all-time standings.
6= Shinji Okazaki, Japan (50)
Okazaki began Japan’s 2-1 defeat of Colombia on the substitutes’ bench, only entering the fray with five minutes left on the clock. The Leicester frontman is still working his way back to full fitness after injury, and manager Akira Nashino may turn to the 32-year-old against Senegal due to his proven track record of scoring goals for his country.
Okazaki reached his half-century in March 2017, which means he’s now gone 16 months without a strike for his country. Even so, only Kunishige Kamamoto and Kazuyoshi Miura have found the net more often for the Samurai Blue.
5. Luis Suarez, Uruguay (52)
Suarez was off-colour in Uruguay’s opening win against Egypt, but he opened his account for the tournament against Saudi Arabia. He’ll be determined to shine in Russia this summer, having seen his previous World Cups ended prematurely – and in controversial circumstances – in 2010 and 2014.
The Barcelona man remains one of the best centre-forwards around, as evidenced by his tremendous scoring record at international level. Suarez has got his name on the scoresheet 52 times in 100 games for Uruguay, which gives him a ratio marginally better than a goal every other game.
3= Neymar, Brazil (55)
Neymar doesn’t yet belong in the very highest echelon of Brazilian greats, but it’s hard to argue with his record in front of goal. Only Ronaldo (62) and Pele (77) have scored more often for the Selecao than their current star man, although more significant is the fact that both of those forwards won the World Cup.
Neymar could follow suit this summer, of course, although he didn't get up and running in the disappointing draw with Switzerland. He’s still only 26, though, so it would be a surprise if he didn’t one day break Pele’s record.
3= Robert Lewandowski, Poland (55)
Lewandowski was the top scorer in the European section of World Cup qualifying, making the net bulge 16 times in 10 games as Poland topped their group. He struggled in the 2-1 defeat by Senegal on Tuesday, however, with Adam Nawalka’s side unable to supply the Bayern Munich marksman with quality ammunition.
Lewandowski has proven for both club and country that he can score goals for fun if the service is right. With 55 goals in 96 caps, the 29-year-old is already Poland’s record goal-getter.
2. Lionel Messi, Argentina (64)
Messi spurned a golden opportunity to put Argentina 2-1 up in their first game against Iceland, but his tame penalty was comfortably saved by Hannes Halldorsson as the World Cup debutants held on for a point.
The Barcelona man was still his side’s best player in that encounter, though, and his importance to the Albiceleste cause is underlined by his goal record: 64 strikes in 124 outings. Messi has yet to win a major trophy with his country, but he’s been Argentina’s record scorer since displacing Gabriel Batistuta in 2016.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal (85)
Ronaldo delivered the outstanding individual performance of the first round of fixtures in Russia, notching a stunning hat-trick against Spain to earn Portugal a point in their opening game. He then struck with a header in the 1-0 defeat of Morocco to become the top-scoring European in the history of international football.
Ronaldo’s exploits so far this summer have lifted his tally to 85 goals in 152 appearances, and the Real Madrid forward will no doubt have the overall international record – currently held by Iran’s Ali Daei with 109 – in his sights.
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