All-Time World Cup: Winners, Top Scorers & Complete Guide to Biggest Tournament

world cup trophy

FIFA World Cup 2018 is just around the corner and the buzz is starting to ring around the sports world and rightly so considering FIFA World Cup is the biggest sports event on every scale. Did you know, FIFA world Cup is the most watched sports event in the world ? well it is and that too by quite some margin. We can expect another thrilling month of international football in June-July 2018 in Russia. 2018 World Cup in Russia will be the 21st edition of the tournament and Brazil has the record of winning 5 world cups more than any other nation. Today we take a look at all time leading goal scorers in FIFA World Cup history.

The 21st edition of football’s biggest tournament will take place in the summer of 2018 as Russia prepares to join a long list of host nations in staging the World Cup. Excitement is beginning to spread across the globe as the 32 finalists booked their place in the prestigious competition where they will attempt to write their names into the history books. With the groups now known and the tournament itself under three months away, Goal takes a look at the history of the World Cup as well as some of the record holders.

What is the World Cup?

The FIFA World Cup is an international football tournament featuring the senior national teams from around the globe. It was first launched in 1930 and takes place every four years. Teams under FIFA’s umbrella are eligible to compete and they must qualify for the final stage of the tournament, with qualification rounds divided according to confederational affiliation. Aside from 1942 and 1946, when it was disrupted by the Second World War, the World Cup has run continuously since its inception.

How many teams compete in the World Cup?

The current format of the World Cup sees 32 finalists take part in the competition but that was not always the case and, indeed, will not always be. Just 13 teams competed in the first World Cup and that number expanded to 16 from 1934 to 1978 (with some exceptions). In 1982, the World Cup expanded to include eight more teams, bringing the total number of participants to 24.

The format we are familiar with today – 32 teams – was first introduced in the 1998 World Cup in France.

Who won the first World Cup?

first World CupThe first World Cup in 1930 was hosted and won by Uruguay. It was markedly different to the tournament that we know today in that it was an invitational and it featured just 13 teams, seven of which came from South America. Four teams from Europe participated, with Mexico and the United States completing the line-up.

The final, which was held at Montevideo’s Estadio Centenario, was an all-South American affair as hosts Uruguay took on Argentina. Uruguay won the inaugural World Cup thanks to a 4-2 victory in front of over 68,000 fans.

Who has won the most World Cups?

Who has won the most World Cups

The tournament has been held 20 times since 1930 and the full breakdown of winners can be found below.

YearHostWinnerScoreRunner up
1934ItalyItaly2-1 (AET)Czechoslovakia
1954SwitzerlandWest Germany3-2Hungary
1966EnglandEngland4-2 (AET)West Germany
1974West GermanyWest Germany2-1Netherlands
1978ArgentinaArgentina3-1 (AET)Netherlands
1982SpainItaly3-1West Germany
1986MexicoArgentina3-2West Germany
1990ItalyWest Germany1-0Argentina
1994USABrazil0-0 (3-2 P)Italy
2002Japan & South KoreaBrazil2-0Germany
2006GermanyItaly1-1 (5-3 P)France
2010South AfricaSpain1-0 (AET)Netherlands
2014BrazilGermany1-0 (AET)Argentina

Note: There were no World Cups in 1942 or 1946 due to the outbreak of World War II.

World Cup winners breakdown:

Brazil5 (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002)2 (1938, 1978)
Germany*4 (1954, 1974, 1990, 2014)4 (1966, 1982, 1986, 2002)
Italy4 (1934, 1938, 1982, 2006)2 (1970, 1994)
Argentina2 (1978, 1986)3 (1930, 1990, 2014)
Uruguay2 (1930, 1950)
France1 (1998)1 (2006)
England1 (1966)
Spain1 (2010)

* Three of Germany’s World Cup triumphs came as West Germany (1954, 1974 and 1990)

Who is the World Cup’s all-time top goalscorer?

Miroslav Klose

The all-time top scorer in the history of the World Cup is Miroslav Klose, who scored 16 goals for Germany over the course of four tournaments. Former Brazil star Ronaldo follows with 15 goals in three tournaments, while Gerd Muller scored 14 in just two tournaments.

Comparatively, Germany and Bayern Munich forward Thomas Muller has played in just two World Cups, but he has registered 10 goals, making him the only active player with such a tally. A list of every player with 10 or more World Cup goals can be seen below.

Note: Players in bold are still active international players.

1Miroslav KloseGermany1624
3Gerd MullerWest Germany1413
4Just FontaineFrance136
=6Sandor KocsisHungary115
=6Jurgen KlinsmannWest Germany/Germany1117
=8Helmut RahnWest Germany1010
=8Gary LinekerEngland1012
=8Gabriel BatistutaArgentina1012
=8Teofilo CubillasPeru1013
=8Thomas MullerGermany1013
=8Grzegorz LatoPoland1020

Who has the most World Cup appearances?

Lothar Matthaus

Germany midfielder Lothar Matthaus holds the record for most World Cup appearances having played in 25 games over a remarkable five tournaments (spanning 20 years).

Matthaus is closely followed by his compatriot Miroslav Klose, with Italy legend Paolo Maldini rounding out the top three.

Diego Maradona played in four World Cups and made 21 appearances, while Brazil’s 2002 World Cup-winning captain Cafu and Germany’s 2014 leader Philipp Lahm each played 20 times.

A full list of every player who played 20 or more World Cup games can be seen below.

1Lothar MatthausWest Germany / Germany251982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002
2Miroslav KloseGermany242002, 2006, 2010, 2014
3Paolo MaldiniItaly231990, 1994, 1998, 2002
=4Diego MaradonaArgentina211982, 1986, 1990, 1994
=4Uwe SeelerWest Germany211958, 1962, 1966, 1970
=4Wladyslaw ZmudaPoland211974, 1978, 1982, 1986
=7CafuBrazil201994, 1998, 2002, 2006
=7Philipp LahmGermany202006, 2010, 2014
=7Grzegorz LatoPoland201974, 1978, 1982
=7Bastian SchweinsteigerGermany202006, 2010, 2014

World Cup trophy

World Cup trophy

The winners of the World Cup are awarded the unmistakable gold FIFA World Cup trophy. Introduced at the 1974 World Cup, it was designed by Italian artist Silvio Gazzaniga and is made of 18-karat gold with a malachite base.

The trophy is 36.8 centimetres tall (14.5 inches) and it weighs 6.175 kilograms (13.61 pounds).