The 2022 World Cup has created brand-new football heroes and confirmed the status of some of the brightest stars.
The FIFA World Cup has always managed to create global superstars. But who should join 2022’s Golden Boot winner, Kylian Mbappe, among the most memorable winners?
Here’s a look at the Top 10 Golden Boot laureates across the illustrious history of the competition.
1. Ronaldo (1998, 2002)
Ronaldo is widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time. His performances at the World Cup solidified his place in history. Many famous defenders have gone on record to say that Ronaldo was virtually unstoppable in his heyday.
In 1998, he was easily the best player throughout the competition, coming up empty-handed in the controversial final against the host nation.
However, Ronaldo would get his revenge in the South Korea and Japan-organized tournament in 2002.
2. Kylian Mbappe (2022)
Kylian Mbappe is only 24 years old. He has just won the World Cup’s Golden Boot after scoring 8 goals at World Cup 2022. It’s the second time that he’s been at the World Cup, both times reaching the final.
Adding him to the second position might be hasty. Still, few players achieved as much as Mbappe at a similar age. We think that this is thus a worthy addition to the list. Will we need to review this ranking in four years’ time?
3. Mario Kempes (1978)
Kempes was the star of the 1978 World Cup, scoring 6 goals and winning the Golden Boot as Argentina went on to win the tournament.
He had a successful club career as well, playing for teams like Valencia and Inter Milan. His performances at both the World Cup and club level make him a legend in Argentina alongside Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona.
4. Eusebio (1966)
Eusebio was the top goalscorer at the 1966 World Cup, scoring 9 goals and winning the Golden Boot. Not only that, but he showcased his skill in front of Pele of all players. This happened when Portugal unceremoniously knocked Brazil out of the tournament.
Eusebio had a successful club career as well, playing for Benfica and winning numerous domestic and international titles. His pace and technical ability made him one of the greatest players of his generation.
5. Gerd Muller (1970)
Muller was one of the most clinical finishers in football history. He proved it time and time again. At no time more so than at the 1970 World Cup, where he won the Golden Boot with 10 goals. The Bomber had a trophy-laden career at Bayern Munich, winning numerous Bundesliga titles and the European Cup.
6. Just Fontaine (1958)
The proto-Mbappe, Fontaine, scored an incredible 13 goals in just 6 matches at the 1958 World Cup, winning the Golden Boot and leading France to the semifinals. While his career was cut short by injury, he remains one of the greatest goalscorers in French football history.
7. Grzegorz Lato (1974)
Lato was the unlikely top goalscorer at the 1974 World Cup with 7 goals, helping lead Poland to a third-place finish. He had a long and successful career at club level, playing for teams like Widzew Łódź and Olympiakos.
Lewandowski may be the most famous Polish striker, but Lato is the only one to have won the World Cup’s Golden Boot award.
8. Gary Lineker (1986)
Lineker was a prolific goalscorer for both club and country, winning the Golden Boot at the 1986 World Cup with 6 goals. He had successful stints at clubs like Barcelona and Tottenham, but his career was cut relatively short due to injuries.
Ask any older England fan, however, and they’ll likely point to Lineker as the nation’s greatest striker. Just don’t tell that to fans of Harry Kane.
9. Miroslav Klose (2006, 2010, 2014)
Klose is the all-time leading goalscorer in World Cup history with 16 goals, although Lionel Messi may break this record in 2026.
Calling Klose underrated would be unfair. Despite this, he never quite reached the same level of success at club level. The striker won the Golden Boot in 2006, at the World Cup hosted in Germany, and in 2010. However, his best years were probably behind him by the time he won it again in 2014.
Being a legend in the World Cup is in itself a tremendous achievement.
10. James Rodriguez (2014)
The Colombian attacking midfielder won the Golden Boot at the 2014 World Cup with 6 goals. During those summer games, Rodriguez seemed unstoppable with the ball at his feet.
Still, his career has been somewhat underwhelming since then. While he has had some standout seasons at clubs like Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, he has struggled with injuries and inconsistency. Rodriguez will, however, always have the magic summer of 2014.
Paolo Rossi – The Juventus striker won the Golden Shoe in 1982. Not only that, but his six goals helped Italy win the prestigious trophy.
Hristo Sroichkov – The greatest Bulgarian player of all time was in peak form at the USA-hosted 1994 World Cup.
The playmaker scored six goals in that tournament as the Eastern European nation reached fourth place in the competition. FIFA Fair Play trophies, however, do not adorn this great player’s trophy cabinet.
Guillermo Stabile – He was the first-ever top scorer at a World Cup back in 1930 with 8 goals. Famous Argentina would squander their lead and lose the final to Uruguay.
Stabile would then leave Argentina and become one of the first international football stars playing for the likes of Genoa and Napoli.
Sandor Kocsis – He was part of the legendary Mighty Magyars generation of players. In 1954 he was the top scorer of the World Cup with 11 goals. Sadly for Hungary, and strangely, this generation would however not win a major international trophy.
While there have been many great World Cup Golden Boot winners over the years, these are the ones that stand out above the rest based on their overall careers. Whether it’s their performances at the World Cup or their success at club level, these players have cemented their place in football history.