21. Didier Drogba, Ivory Coast (104 caps, 65 goals)
OK, so technically he’s 21st in this list because of his goals-per-game ratio – but we’re sticking him in anyway since he managed the same number of net-ripplers as our man at No.20.
The mercurial Ivorian bagged a first goal for his country on his international debut – a 3-0 win over Cameroon in February 2003 – and scored the Ivory Coast’s first ever World Cup goal in their 2-1 defeat to Argentina in 2006.
Drogba retired from international football after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, where he was unable to score as the Ivory Coast crashed out in the group stage.
20. Jasem Al-Huwaidi, Kuwait (100 caps, 65 goals)
Narrowly ahead of Drogba is Al-Huwaidi on 0.65 goals per game. Part of the Kuwait team that leapt to 24th in the FIFA world rankings, the 6ft 3in forward was an ever-present force for his nation between 1992 and 2003 but was unable to lead them to major honours.
Al-Huwaidi scored 13 of his international goals in World Cup qualifiers, but couldn't get his country to the finals.
19. Robbie Keane, Republic of Ireland (146 caps, 68 goals)
Keane scored his first goals for Ireland in October 1998, netting twice in a 5-0 win over minnows Malta. His 68th and final goal came a whole 18 years later, when he scored in a 4-0 friendly victory over Oman.
The Green Army were treated to three renditions of Keane’s trademark celebration at the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea, as the striker scored crucial goals against Germany, Saudi Arabia and Spain.
18. Carlos Ruiz, Guatemala (132 caps, 68 goals)
Ruiz scored an impressive eight goals in nine qualifying matches for Guatemala ahead of the 2002 World Cup, but they weren’t enough for his country to qualify. History repeated itself ahead of the 2006 edition, as Ruiz again scored eight times but Guatemala failed to make it once more.
In his final match for Los Chapines, a 2018 World Cup qualifier against Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Ruiz scored five in a 9-3 win. Those goals meant he ended his career with 39 goals in 47 qualification matches, making him the highest goalscorer in World Cup qualifying history. If Guatemala never made it to the finals, it certainly wasn't his fault.
17. Gerd Muller, West Germany (62 caps, 68 goals)
Muller not only boasted an exceptional record of 1.1 goals per game, but also held the record as Germany’s top goalscorer for almost 40 years.
Der Bomber certainly went out with a bang, retiring from international football following the 1974 World Cup, aged only 28. In his native Germany, Muller scored four times to take his World Cup tally to a then-record 14 goals – including the winner over Holland in the final.
That record was later beaten by Ronaldo at the 2006 World Cup, then surpassed by compatriot Miroslav Klose eight years later.
16. Hossam Hassan, Egypt (169 caps, 69 goals)
Hassan has the most caps of anyone on this list with 169, and subsequently the lowest goals-per-game ratio at 0.41. But that shouldn’t take anything away from the Egyptian forward, who played at Italia 90 – including in the Pharaohs’ narrow 1-0 defeat to England.
Fast-forward 16 years and Hassan, aged 40, was captaining Egypt at his third Africa Cup of Nations, playing three games and scoring once en route to tournament triumph.
15. Stern John, Trinidad and Tobago (115 caps, 70 goals)
It’s easy to forget that John was a Premier League player for two full seasons from 2002-04, during the best years of his career at Birmingham. He was a Championship mainstay thereafter, appearing for seven more English clubs over the following six years. Internationally, however, the striker was prolific.
John bagged a mightily impressive 70 international goals in 115 appearances for Trinidad and Tobago, spanning 17 years from 1995 to 2012. His goals helped take Trinidad to the 2006 World Cup in Germany, where he scored against England but saw his effort ruled out for offside.
John holds the record for scoring in 12 consecutive international matches, achieved between 1998 and 1999.
14. Piyapong Pue-on, Thailand (100 caps, 70 goals)
Pue-on’s 70 goals for Thailand were spread across 16 years, from 1981 to 1997.
He managed four hat-tricks for Thailand before taking up his role as manager of the Royal Thai Air Force football team, for whom he played the final eight years of his career.
13. Miroslav Klose, Germany (137 caps, 71 goals)
The German beanpole scored on his international debut, nodded in a record five headers at the 2002 World Cup, and broke the tournament scoring record in one of football's most infamous matches – that 7-1 demolition of Brazil in 2014.
Klose bowed out from international football having helped Germany win the World Cup at his fourth time of trying – not bad for a player who rarely got the credit he deserved… and who could have played for Poland.
12. Kiatisuk Senamuang, Thailand (134 caps, 71 goals)
Thailand’s second man on this list is Senamuang, the nation’s record scorer with 71 goals. He also holds the title of Thailand’s most-capped player with 134.
Senamuang managed 10 goals in qualification for the 2002 World Cup, including four in the 6-0 win over Pakistan. He endured a completely forgettable spell in English football before that, however, joining Huddersfield for the 1999/2000 season but failing to make a single appearance for Steve Bruce’s Terriers.
11. Majed Abdullah, Saudi Arabia (116 caps, 71 goals)
Abdullah smashed seven goals in three games as a 17-year-old in a 1977 junior tournament, before netting twice on his debut for the senior Saudi side in May 1978 during a 6-0 thumping of Pakistan.
Between 1977 and 1994 he grabbed 71 goals – the most notable of which came at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics against a Brazil side that included a young Dunga. He also scored against England in a 1-1 draw in 1988.
10. Kinnah Phiri, Malawi (115 caps, 71 goals)
Phiri was a busy type, managing 71 goals in 115 caps over just seven years between 1974 and 1981. The striker later went on to manage his national side but is best remembered for his playing feats, including scoring all five goals in a 5-1 friendly win over Botswana in October 1977.
His most memorable achievement for Malawi was guiding them to two East and Central Africa Challenge (CECAFA) Cups, scoring in the 1978 final.
9. Bashar Abdullah, Kuwait (133 caps, 75 goals)
Bashar was part of the Kuwait team that won two Gulf Cups and reached the AFC Asian Cup semi-finals. He plundered 75 goals in 11 years.
Abdullah managed to score eight goals in Kuwait’s 20-0 crushing of Bhutan in February 2000, and just four days later scored all five as Kuwait beat Nepal 5-0. Not a bad week’s work.
8. Sandor Kocsis, Hungary (68 caps, 75 goals)
We don’t envy defenders facing Hungary in the late-‘40s and ‘50s. If you managed to keep Ferenc Puskas quiet, the chances were high that you wouldn’t manage the same with Sandor Kocsis too.
Kocsis’s unbelievable 1.10 goals-per-game ratio edges Gerd Muller’s, ranking him No.1 in FIFA’s class-A competition list. The ex-Barcelona star managed seven hat-tricks for Hungary and bagged four in the famous 8-3 demolition of West Germany at World Cup ‘54 – the tournament at which he finished top scorer with 11 goals.
7. Pele, Brazil (91 caps, 77 goals)
The legend of 1,000 career goals (well, allegedly) netted just the 77 at international level, but O Rei bagged a further 18 in 21 unofficial matches for Brazil. The best bit, though? He wasn’t even an out-and-out striker.
Widely argued as the best player to ever grace a football field, Pele scored a hat-trick in the 1954 World Cup semi-final against France, and netted twice in the final against Sweden. Aged just 17.
Fittingly, he scored Brazil’s 100th World Cup goal with a header in the 1970 final against Italy. He can blame Gordon Banks for not being higher on this list.
6. Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal (145 caps, 78 goals)
The only player still appearing for his national side in this list is the four-time Ballon d’Or winner. With 78 goals for Portugal (as of 1 Oct 2017), Ronaldo is closing the gap on those ahead of him - he's only a brace behind a place in the top three - and showing no signs of slowing yet.
The Real Madrid man netted a first for his country at Euro 2004, where hosts Portugal lost to Greece in the final. Twelve years later Ronaldo was still at it, bagging crucial goals against Hungary and Wales as Portugal became surprise European champions.
5. Hussein Saeed, Iraq (137 caps, 78 goals)
Saeed is hailed as Iraq’s player of the century – and it’s not hard to see why, given that he boasts both the goals and caps record for his country.
The striker spent his entire playing career at Al-Talaba, and had a particularly fruitful 1984 as he guided Iraq to the Gulf Cup of Nations, notching two braces and a hat-trick.
4. Godfrey Chitalu, Zambia (108 caps, 79 goals)
Remember in 2012, when social media was abuzz that Lionel Messi had broken Gerd Muller’s record for the number of goals scored in a calendar year? Others insisted that one player had managed 107 goals in 1972 – the same year Muller had plundered his 85.
That man was Chitalu, who scored 79 in 108 for Zambia over a 12-year period, including a couple of goals at the 1980 Moscow Olympics against Venezuela and hosts Soviet Union. As the national team's manager, he was amongst those tragically killed in the April 1993 plane crash that wiped out the Zambia side.
3. Kunishige Kamamoto, Japan (84 caps, 80 goals)
Between 1964 and 1977 Kamamoto scored 80 goals in 84 appearances for Japan, becoming their first footballing icon. He top-scored at the 1968 Mexico Olympics with seven goals, including a hat-trick against Nigeria and a pair in the quarter-finals against France.
Unfortunately for Kamamoto and Japan, their chances of making the 1970 World Cup were hampered when he contracted hepatitis. Sure enough, Japan limped to defeats in the opening qualifying round against Australia and South Korea.
2. Ferenc Puskas, Hungary/Spain (89 caps, 84 goals)
During his 11 years playing for Hungary between 1945 and 1956, Puskas bagged 84 goals in just 85 caps – including three hat-tricks and a four in a 12-0 rout over Albania.
He was pivotal as Hungary won gold at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics; the Mighty Magyars then beat England 6-3 and 7-1 in the two years following their success, with Puskas scoring twice in each game. Ouch.
At the 1954 World Cup, Puskas bagged hat-tricks in Hungary’s opening two matches before suffering a hairline ankle fracture. He returned for the final – and scored – but Hungary managed to lose 3-2 despite leading 2-0 after just eight minutes.
Puskas also made four appearances for the Spanish national side between 1961 and 1962, but didn’t score.
1. Ali Daei, Iran (149 caps, 109 goals)
International football’s top scorer Daei scored both goals when Hertha Berlin beat Chelsea 2-1 in a 1999 Champions League group game.
His phenomenal 109 goals in 13 years for Iran put him way out in front at the top of this leaderboard. Daei once netted five in a game, in 1996 against Sri Lanka, but didn’t manage to grab himself a goal at either the 1998 or 2006 World Cups. The striker did, however, set up the Iranian goal which saw off the USA in his nation’s only World Cup finals victory thus far.
Daei bagged his 100th international goal when he scored the second of his four against Laos in 2004, but the last of his exceptional 109 came in March 2006 in a 3-2 victory over Costa Rica. Legend.
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