History of the Golden Boot
With the quarter-finals of the 2018 World Cup upon us, the race for the Golden Boot is hotting up. Harry Kane currently leads the way with six goals, but a host of forwards are still vying to follow in the footsteps of these sharp-shooters who previously claimed the prize. In this slideshow, we stack up the top-scorer gong winners at every World Cup since 1966...
2014: James Rodriguez (Colombia, 6 goals)
The breakout star of the 2014 World Cup, James scored in Colombia's first match against Greece to help his country to a comfortable 3-0 victory in Belo Horizonte. He then netted the opening goal in a 2-1 win over Ivory Coast in Brasilia, before striking once more against Japan as Los Cafeteros secured top spot in Group B.
The playmaker scored both goals in the last-16 2-0 defeat of Uruguay, including one of the most sensational strikes in World Cup history with a stunning chest-and-volley. James struck again against Brazil in the last eight, but it wasn't enough to prevent Colombia losing 2-1.
2010: Thomas Muller (Germany, 5 goals)
A 20-year-old Muller only had one full campaign of top-flight football under his belt before the 2010 World Cup, but made himself a household name with his performances in South Africa. The Bayern Munich man opened his account with a goal against Australia in the group, but saved his best for the knockout stages.
Two second-half strikes in the last 16 broke English hearts as Germany won 4-1, before Muller grabbed the opener in the quarter-final against Argentina as Joachim Low's men ran out 4-0 winners. He also struck in the third-place play-off against Uruguay, but ultimately his three assists were decisive in earning him the Golden Boot ahead of fellow five-goal heroes Diego Forlan, David Villa and Wesley Sneijder.
2006: Miroslav Klose (Germany, 5 goals)
Nobody has scored more World Cup goals than Klose, who made the net bulge 16 times on the biggest stage of all. Five of those came in 2006 as Germany reached the semi-finals on home soil.
Klose scored twice against Costa Rica in the competition curtain-raiser, then notched another brace against Ecuador in the third group game as the hosts comfortably qualified for the knockouts. He also netted in the penalty shootout victory over Argentina in the quarter-finals, but Germany bowed out against Italy in the next round.
2002: Ronaldo (Brazil, 8 goals)
Ronaldo's goals had fired Brazil to the World Cup Final in 1998, but a mysterious fit prevented him from making a significant impact in the Paris showpiece against France. Injuries had plagued him in the intervening years, but by 2002 the striker had got himself back to full fitness.
Ronaldo scored one each against Turkey and China in Brazil's first two fixtures, then hit a double in their 5-2 victory over Costa Rica. Another effort in the last 16 against Belgium was followed by the only goal of the game against Turkey in the last four – and then came his crowning moment. In the final against Germany, Ronaldo's brace fired the Selecao to glory.
1998: Davor Suker (Croatia, 6 goals)
Croatia were the surprise package of the 1998 World Cup, as Suker’s goals fired them to a third-place finish. The striker scored the third in a 3-1 victory over Jamaica to get their tournament under way, before grabbing the only goal of the match in his nation's defeat of Japan six days later.
Croatia got the better of Romania in the last 16 when Suker's strike separated the two sides, and the Real Madrid man was at it again in the next round, rounding off the scoring in Croatia's brilliant 3-0 win against Germany. Suker's goal against hosts France wasn't enough to avoid a 2-1 loss in the semis, but another strike in the third-place play-off against Holland snatched the Golden Boot.
1994: Oleg Salenko (Russia, 6 goals)
Russian frontman Salenko only ever scored six international goals, and all of them came at USA '94. Five were scored in one game against Cameroon – a World Cup record.
The striker had only netted his first ever goal for Russia in the group against Sweden four days earlier – a penalty – before grabbing an extraordinary quintet in a 6-1 thrashing of the Not-So-Indomitable Lions. That goal difference-booster wasn't enough to send Salenko & Co. through to the next round, but it was sufficient to earn Salenko a share of the Golden Boot with...
1994: Hristo Stoichkov (Bulgaria, 6 goals)
Whereas Salenko grabbed five of his USA '94 haul in one match, Bulgarian Stoichkov's goals were spread across a handful of games.
The Barcelona forward was the star of a golden generation of players who hit their prime in time for the 1994 World Cup. He struck three times in the group phase as Bulgaria lost to Nigeria, then beat Greece and Argentina. Stoichkov scored again in the last 16 against Mexico, before notching the equaliser past Germany in the last eight, and a late consolation against Italy in the semi-finals.
1990: Salvatore Schillaci (Italy, 6 goals)
Schillaci replaced Napoli forward Carnevale with 15 minutes remaining of Italy's opening match at the 1990 World Cup on home soil. That was enough time for the striker to grab the winner against Austria, which he followed up with goals in Italy's second and third group game against the United States and Czechoslovakia.
Schillaci kept his place for the knockout phase, where he netted in the 2-0 last-16 victory over Uruguay, and then the 1-0 defeat of Ireland in the quarter-finals. He was on the scoresheet against Argentina in the semis too, but Diego Maradona & Co. advanced to the final after winning 5-4 on penalties. Still, there was time to put another past England in the third-place play-off.
1986. Gary Lineker (England, 6 goals)
England's World Cup campaign got off to a poor start in 1986, with a 1-0 defeat by Portugal followed by a goalless draw against Morocco. Needing a win against Poland in their final group game to make it through, Lineker scored three first-half goals to settle nerves and get the job done.
The striker added another two to his personal tally in a 3-0 victory over Paraguay in the last 16, before scoring again in the quarter-final meeting with Argentina. Sadly for England, that goal proved to be nothing more than a consolation as a Diego Maradona-inspired side ran out 2-1 victors.
1982: Paolo Rossi (Italy, 6 goals)
Rossi got off to a slow start in 1982, as Italy squeezed through the first group stage with three draws against Poland, Peru and Cameroon. The striker again failed to net against Argentina in the Azzurri's first game of the second group phase, but belatedly exploded into life with a hat-trick against Brazil in a surprise 3-2 win.
Rossi then grabbed both goals in their 2-0 victory over Poland in the semi-final, before scoring the opener in Italy's 3-1 triumph over West Germany in the final. His six strikes all came at the business end of the competition and were enough for him to win the Golden Boot.
1978: Mario Kempes (Argentina, 6 goals)
Before 1978, Argentina’s best showing at a World Cup was their quarter-final appearance 12 years previously in England. The pressure was on when they hosted the tournament for the first time, and players like Kempes were expected to step up and deliver.
The striker failed to do so initially, firing blanks in unconvincing victories over Hungary and France, before Italy beat the hosts 1-0 in their final group game. Kempes found his feet in the second round, though, plundering braces against Poland and Peru, then notching another double in the 3-1 defeat of Argentina (after extra time) in the final.
1974: Grzegorz Lato (Poland, 7 goals)
Polish forward Lato scored twice against both Argentina and Haiti in the first stage of the 1974 World Cup in West Germany, helping his side top a tough group which also featured Italy. In the second round, Poland started with victories over Sweden and Yugoslavia – both featuring Lato goals – to set up a winner-takes-all match against the hosts.
The Germans won 1-0 to reach the final, and Poland were forced to make do with a place in the third-place play-off against Brazil – which they won courtesy of Lato's seventh goal of the tournament.
1970: Gerd Muller (West Germany, 10 goals)
Muller scored a sensational 10 goals at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, including a tournament record seven in the group stage. A single strike in the 2-1 win over Morocco was followed by consecutive hat-tricks against Bulgaria and Peru, as the German goal machine relentlessly terrified opposition defences.
Muller grabbed an extra-time winner against England in the quarter-finals and two more against Italy in the last four, but that wasn't quite enough to stop the Azzurri advancing to the final after a 4-3 win.
1966: Eusebio (Portugal, 9 goals)
The 1966 tournament is remembered for Geoff Hurst’s hat-trick and Bobby Moore lifting the Jules Rimet trophy at Wembley as England won on home soil. Portugal also enjoyed their best ever World Cup outing that year, though, when Eusebio was their undisputed star man.
The striker scored in the second-game 3-1 triumph over Hungary, then added a brace in the 3-1 defeat of Brazil which helped Portugal top their group. Four goals against North Korea prevented an embarrassment in the quarter-finals as the Selecao came from three goals down to win, and he scored again in the semi-finals against England – but Portugal lost 2-1. A penalty in the third-place play-off against the Soviet Union earned Eusebio the Golden Boot with nine goals.
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