Between 1930 to 1978, there was no award for being the top scorer at a World Cup. From 1982 to 2006, the top scorer was awarded the Golden Shoe, and since 2010, it has been known as the Golden Boot.
Here are the last 7 World Cup Golden Boot Winners
7. James Rodriguez - 6 Goals
This summers World Cup finals in Russia is likely to see the highest scoring Golden Boot winner since at least 2002 - and possibly 1970 - with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Romelu Lukaku and Harry Kane all having been quick out of the traps.
The top scorer at the 2014 World Cup was Colombia star James Rodriguez. The highly impressive attacking midfielder took the finals by storm, scoring in every one of Colombia’s games, including one of the goals of the tournament against Uruguay. Rodriguez made a big money move to Real Madrid after the finals, and is currently halfway through a two-year loan deal at Bayern Munich.
6. Thomas Muller - 5 Goals
Thomas Mueller of Germany reacts during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group F match between Korea Republic and Germany at Kazan Arena on June 27, 2018 in Kazan, Russia.
It was a four-way tie for the Golden Boot at the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa, between Thomas Muller, David Villa, Wesley Sneijder and Diego Forlan. FIFA awarded Muller with the Golden Boot though, since the German international had three assists to his name as well, whilst none of the others had more than one. Somewhat surprisingly, only one of Muller’s goals came in the group stages, as he scored a brace against England in the round of 16, finding the net once against Argentina in the Quarter-Finals and once more against Uruguay in the third place play-off.
5. Miroslav Klose - 5 Goals
There were low scoring German top scorers at both the 2010 and 2006 World Cups, yet Miroslav Klose still comfortably won the Golden Shoe in 2006, with Hernan Crespo and Ronaldo tied in second place with only 3 goals apiece. Klose is the all time record goal scorer at World Cup finals, and the 2006 World Cup was the second consecutive finals in which he scored 5 goals. Klose scored a couple of braces in the group stages and once in the Quarter-Finals against Argentina.
4. Ronaldo - 8 Goals
Former Brazilian player Ronaldo cheers the fans prior tothe 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Group A match between Russia and Saudi Arabia at Luzhniki Stadium on June 14, 2018 in Moscow, Russia.
The highest scoring player at a single World Cup in this seven - and indeed since Gerd Muller in Mexico in 1970 - Ronaldo Luis Nazario de Lima struck eight times at the 2002 World Cup jointly held by South Korea and Japan. Having won the Golden Ball in France four years earlier only for his unusual health problems before the final, the way in which Ronaldo bounced back for Brazil was a mark of his class. He scored in every single game except the Quarter-Finals against England, and most notably beat Oliver Kahn twice in a 2-0 Brazil win in the final. Ronaldo was a truly jaw-dropping talent, and it’s worth noting that he was already past his best by 2002. He went on to score three more goals at the 2006 World Cup but was left out of Dunga’s squad for the finals in 2010, playing for Corinthians by that point.
3. Davor Suker - 6 Goals
Croatia finished third at the 1998 World Cup, getting knocked out in the semi-finals by the hosts and eventual winners France. It was a gifted group of Croatian players, but the primary reason for their success was the goal scoring exploits of Real Madrid forward Davor Suker. A really clinical striker with good technique, Suker scored in all but one of Croatia’s games at the finals, including the winner in his countries third place play-off game against the Netherlands.
HRISTO STOITCHKOV OF BARCELONA FALLS AS HE IS BROUGHT DOWN BY ALOISIO OF PORTO DURING THE EUROPEAN CUP SEMIFINAL MATCH IN BARCELONA, SPAIN. Mandatory Credit: Shaun Botterill
The only actual tie in this seven, inasmuch as FIFA awarded the Golden Shoe to both players rather than picking one based on who had more assists or played fewer minutes, Hristo Stoichkov and Oleg Salenko both netted six times in the United States. The players six goal hauls came under very different circumstances. Salenko scored five goals in a single game against Cameroon - which is a World Cup record - and once more against Sweden. Russia went out in the group stages though, making Salenko the only World Cup Golden Boot winner to have gone out before the knockout stages. Stoichkov, meanwhile, was the talisman in a Bulgarian side that reached the semi-finals. Stoichkov scored decisive goals in every one of Bulgaria’s knockout wins, as well as a consolation goal in their 2-1 defeat to Italy in the semi-finals.
1. Salvatore Schillaci - 6 Goals
As you may be able to tell, six goals seems to be the benchmark for winning the World Cup Golden Boot over the last few decades, and that was the magic number for surprise star Salvatore Schillaci at Italia ‘90. The man they called ‘Toto’ spent most of his career outside of Italy’s top flight, and he only ever scored more than six goals in a season once in Serie A. And yet he hit that same tally of 6 goals rather more impressively from only 5 starts at the 1990 World Cup on home soil. With deep set eyes and a menacing expression, Schillaci’s rise to world stardom was as rapid as his disappearance - by the 1994 World Cup he was playing his club football in Japan.