The World Cup is the biggest football competition on the planet, drawing the best players from across the globe every four years. The tournament has hosted some of the best footballers the game has ever seen. This list highlights the players with the most goals in the history of the World Cup including the number of games and tournaments they have played in.

  • Gabriel Batistuta

Country: Argentina

Tournament appearances: 3

Games played: 12

Goal scored: 10

Gabriel Batistuta will always be remembered as one of the most prolific Argentine players to ever play the game. He scored a total of 54 goals in 77 international games for Argentina and 10 of those goals were scored in 12 World Cup games.  His first tournament was in 1994 and despite a promising start that saw him score a hattrick in his first game against Greece, Argentina was eliminated in the round of 16 by Romania after Diego Maradona’s doping ban marred their World Cup campaign.

In 1998, Batistuta appeared in his second World Cup and became the first man to score a hattrick in two World Cups after he scored 3 goals against Jamaica. Although they put in a strong showing, Argentina was eliminated by the Netherlands in the quarter-finals. His last World Cup was in 2002 and it was his most disappointing appearance in all three. Argentina only won a game against Nigeria and ended up being knocked out at the group stage. With 10 goals scored in a total, Batistuta will always be remembered as one of the best strikers to play in the game’s showpiece event.

  • Gary Lineker

Country: England

Tournament appearances: 2

Games played: 12

Goal scored: 10

Before Gary Lineker began hosting Match of the Day on BBC, he had an incredible football career that saw him score many goals for club and country. Lineker played 80 games for England including 12 games at the World Cup where he scored 10 goals and remains the highest scoring English player at the World Cup.

Lineker represented England at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico and 1990 in Italy. He was part of the English team that was knocked out by Maradona’s famous ‘Hand of God’ controversial winning goal at the 1986 World Cup quarter-finals. He scored 6 goals in that tournament, emerging as the highest goal scorer and the first Englishman to achieve that feat. He scored 4 goals in his next World Cup appearance in Italy, leading England to the semi-final. Lineker retired from international football in 1992 having scored a total of 48 goals in 80 caps.

  • Helmut Rahn

Country: West Germany

Tournament appearances: 2

Games played: 10

Goal scored: 10

Helmut Rahn is a legendary German footballer who inked his name in the history books after inspiring West Germany to win the 1954 World Cup. Coming into the tournament as underdogs and against the backdrop of World War II. Germany surprisingly qualified for the finals where they faced a much stronger Hungarian team. Losing 0-2 with just 8 minutes on the clock, Helmut Rahn scored 2 and assisted one as Germany fought back to win the final match that has since been named ”The Miracle of Bern”.

His goals also led Germany to 1958 World Cup semi-finals where he became the first player to score 4 goals in two different World Cups. Rahn retired from international football in 1960 having played a total of 40 games and scored 21 goals.

  • Jürgen Klinsmann

Country: Germany

Tournament appearances: 3

Games played: 17

Goal scored: 11

Jürgen Klinsmann is Germany’s 4th most capped player of all time with 108 caps, 17 of which were World Cup games. He played in 3 World Cups, scoring 11 goals and leading his country to the trophy in 1990. In the final game, Klinsmann was fouled by Argentina’s Pedro Monzón and his spectacular reaction to the foul ensured Monzón was sent off reducing Argentina to 10 men and easing Germany’s work as they went ahead to win the game 1-0.

Klinsmann was also a member of Germany’s team to USA 94 World Cup where he scored 5 goals and also participated in France 98 World Cup scoring 3 goals. He is the first player to score 3 goals or more in 3 consecutive World Cups. He retired after the World Cup in 1998 having played 108 games and scoring 47 goals. Since retirement, he has coached Germany, Bayern Munich, USA, and Hertha Berlin.

  • Sándor Kocsis

Country: Hungary

Tournament appearances:1

Games played: 5

Goal scored: 11

Sándor Kocsis is one of the most prolific forwards to ever play the game. He made a total of 68 caps for Hungary and scored an astonishing 75 goals, holding the record for the best game to goal ratio in international football. Unlike most players on this list, Sándor Kocsis appeared in just one World Cup, managing to score an astonishing 11 goals in just 5 games. His goals led Hungary to the 1954 World Cup where they lost in the final to West Germany.

Kocsis’ World Cup performance is ranked number 2 in terms of goal/game average having average 2.2 goals per game. He is the first player to score two hattricks in a single World Cup tournament. Kocsis scored a total of 7 hattricks in his international career and retired from international football a year after his exploits at the World Cup.

  • Pele

Country: Brazil

Tournament appearances: 4

Games played: 14

Goal scored: 12

Pele is one of the greatest goalscorers to play the game and perhaps the best player of all time. Hence, his appearance on this list is no surprise. Pele participated in 4 World Cups and helped his country win 3 of those tournaments. He is one of the most successful players at the World Cup holding records such as the youngest player to play at the World Cup, and the youngest player to score a World Cup hat-trick. Pele is also the youngest player to play in a World Cup final match where he scored 2 goals to help Brazil defeat Sweden 5-2.

An injury meant he missed a large part of Brazil’s 1962 World Cup win. 4 years later, he had a disastrous outing at his third World Cup failing to win the tournament. In 1970, he played in his last World Cup and helped Brazil to another trophy and was named the tournament’s MVP. Pele played a total of 92 games for Brazil before he retired in 1971. His total goal haul of 77 is still the most international goals scored by a Brazilian.

  • Just Fontaine

Country: France

Tournament appearances: 1

Games played: 6

Goal scored:13

Fontaine may have only participated in 1 World Cup (1958) but shocked everyone as he scored a total of 13 goals in just 5 games, including 5 goals against West Germany. His heroics helped France to the 3rd place while he went home with the golden boot award for most goals in the tournament. To date, no player has surpassed Just Fontaine’s record as the player to score the most goals in a single World Cup tournament.

Fontaine played a total of 21 international games for France, scoring 30 goals. Considered to be one of the greatest French goal scorers of all time, he scored 3 goals on his first cap for France. Unfortunately, his career was cut short by recurring injuries which forced him to retire at 28. Luckily, he had already done enough to write his name in the history books as one of the best players to play at a World Cup.

  • Gerd Müller

Country:  West Germany

Tournament appearances: 2

Games played: 13

Goal scored: 14

Before Miroslav Klose broke his record in 2014, Gerd Müller was Germany’s all-time top scorer for the national team. He participated in his first World Cup in 1970 where he scored 10 goals to lead Germany to 3rd place. He returned again 4 years later to participate in what would be his second and final World Cup with West Germany. He scored four goals in total including the winning goal in a 2-1 win over Netherland in the final.

For 32 years, he held the record for the most goals scored in the World Cup until Ronaldo Lima broke the record in 2006.  Gerd Müller played a total of 62 international games and scored 68 goals. His impressive goal to game ratio is ranked number 3 in international football. Apart from the World Cup trophy he won in 1974, Muller also won the UEFA European Championship in 1972 where he also emerged as the competition’s top goalscorer with 4 goals.

  • Ronaldo

Country: Brazil

Tournament appearance: 4

Games played: 19

Goal scored: 15

At age 17, Ronaldo was named in the Brazilian squad that went ahead to win the 1994 World Cup. Although he didn’t play a single game, this was the beginning of his national team adventure. Ronaldo recovered from an injury to play in his second World Cup in France 98. At this point, he was already the best player in the team and one of the best in the world. He scored 4 goals to help Brazil reach the final where they lost to France. Ronaldo was named the best player of the tournament after his impressive display in France.

4 years later, Ronaldo was in his element as his goalscoring exploits helped Brazil to their 5th World Cup trophy. Ronaldo scored 2 goals in the final and finished the competition with 8 goals earning him the golden boot for the most goals on the competition. He scored 3 more goals in his next World Cup in 2006 to take his World Cup goal tally to 15, a record for most World Cup goals by a player at the time. His 15-goal tally broke a 32-year record held by Gerd Müller. Ronaldo retired from international football in 2011, having been capped 98 times and scoring 62 goals. He is often regarded as one of the best players in the history of the game.

  • Miroslav Klose

Country: Germany

Tournament appearances: 4

Games played: 24

Goal scored: 16

Miroslav Klose featured for Germany in 4 World Cups, coming second place once, third place twice and first place once. He scored 5 goals in his first World Cup in Korea & Japan in 2002, helping his team reach the final where they lost to Brazil. 4 years later, the World Cup was hosted in Germany and Miroslav Klose was right at home scoring 5 goals again to help Germany secure 3rd place. He was awarded the Golden Boot for scoring the most goals in the competition. Klose was back again scoring goals for Germany in 2010 as South Africa hosted the World Cup. He scored a total of 4 goals to help Germany finish in 3rd place again.

4 years later, Klose would participate in another World Cup in what was his last international competition for Germany. At 36 years of age, he wasn’t as sharp as he used to be, but he still had enough in his locker to the 2 goals that made him the player with the most goals at a World Cup. Germany would go ahead to win the tournament, defeating Argentina 1-0 in the final. Miroslav Klose retired immediately after the World Cup in 2014, bringing to an end a largely successful career that saw him make 137 caps for Germany, scoring 71 goals.

While it took 32 years to break Muller’s record, it took just 12 years to break Ronaldo’s. With Klose now holding the record for the most goals scored at a World Cup, there’s no telling how long it would take for another player to break his record. The closest to achieving this feat amongst players who are still playing active football are Luiz Suarez, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar, Harry Kane, and James Rodriguez who are all tied on 7 goals.