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FIFA World Cup history: Past winners, runners-up, leading goalscorers and Golden Ball recipients

The World Cup offers Australian football a chance to build momentum (Photo by Joosep Martinson - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

FIFA World Cup history is full of legendary names, teams and tournaments. Played every four years, the list of past winners, best players and leading goalscorers is a veritable who’s who of footballing royalty.

In 2022 it was Argentina who won the Cup after arguably the greatest final ever, with France’s Kylian Mbappe losing the decider but taking home the golden boot courtesy of a hat-trick on the biggest stage of all.

He’d pip Lionel Messi for the title, who scored two goals himself, though the Argentinian great would claim the golden ball for player of the tournament, becoming the first player to claim the award twice having previously won in 2014.

Below is a list of the winners, runners-up, best performers and leading goalscorers of each World Cup.

FIFA World Cup history: Past tournaments

Year Winners Runners-up Player of the tournament Leading goal scorer
2022 Argentina France Lionel Messi Kylian Mbappé
2018 France Croatia Luka Modric Harry Kane
2014 Germany Argentina Lionel Messi James Rodriguez
2010 Spain Netherlands Diego Forlán Thomas Müller
2006 Italy France Zinedine Zidane Miroslav Klose
2002 Brazil Germany Oliver Kahn Ronaldo
1998 France Brazil Ronaldo Davor Šuker
1994 Brazil Italy Romário Oleg Salenko
1990 West Germany Argentina Salvatore Schillaci Salvatore Schillaci
1986 Argentina West Germany Diego Maradona Gary Lineker
1982 Italy West Germany Paolo Rossi Paolo Rossi
1978 Argentina Netherlands Kempes Mario Kempes
1974 West Germany Netherlands Johan Cruyff Grzegorz Lato
1970 Brazil Italy Pelé Gerd Müller
1966 England West Germany Bobby Charlton Eusébio
1962 Brazil Czechoslovakia Garrincha Garrincha, Vavá, Leonel Sánchez, Flórián Albert, Valentin Ivanov, Dražan Jerković
1958 Brazil Sweden Didi Just Fontaine
1954 West Germany Hungary Ferenc Puskás Sándor Kocsis
1950 Uruguay Brazil Zizinho Ademir
1938 Italy Hungary Leônidas Leônidas
1934 Italy Czechoslovakia Meazza Oldřich Nejedlý
1930 Uruguay Argentina Nasazzi Guillermo Stábile

World Cup Trophy

Leading goalscorers in World Cup history


The World Cup is a chance for each country to showcase its best players. The grand tournament has allowed young players to get the national recognition they deserve and older veterans to continue their legacy.

The now-retired Miroslav Klose holds the legendary status of most goals scored ever in World Cup finals matches.

Below is a list of the top scorers in the competition’s history.

Rank Player Country Number of goals
1 Miroslav Klose Germany 16
2 Ronaldo Brazil 15
3 Gerd Müller West Germany 14
4 Just Fontaine France 13
5 Pelé Brazil 12
6 Sándor Kocsis Hungary 11
Jürgen Klinsmann Germany 11
8 Helmut Rahn West Germany 10
Gary Lineker England 10
Gabriel Batistuta Argentina 10
Teófilo Cubillas Peru 10
Thomas Müller Germany 10
Grzegorz Lato Poland 10
14 Eusébio Portugal 9
Christian Vieri Italy 9
Vava Brazil 9
David Villa Spain 9
Paolo Rossi Italy 9
Jairzinho Brazil 9
Roberto Baggio Italy 9
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge West Germany 9
Uwe Seeler West Germany 9

Most successful World Cup nations

No national team has been as successful in World Cups than Brazil. The Selecao have won the tournament a record five times, the last of which came in 2002 when a star-studded team featuring Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho defeated Germany 2-0 in the final.

The Germans are next on the list of most successful World Cup nations, having lifted the trophy on four occasions – three as West Germany and once more as a unified nation in 2014. Italy, the first nation to win two World Cups, sit equal with Die Mannschaft on four victories.


Uruguay were the inaugural champions, the first side to claim the Jules Rimet trophy in 1930, and won one more title in an upset in 1950. Argentina have also won two titles.

Team World Cup wins Years won
Brazil 5 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002
Germany 4 1954, 1974, 1990, 2014
Italy 4 1934, 1938, 1982, 2006
Argentina 2 1978, 1986
Uruguay 2 1930, 1950
France 2 1998, 2018
England 1 1966
Spain 1 2010

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