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Next
 Posted by Miguel Delaney
Jul 12, 2014

Whose Golden Boot has meant the most?

20 Premier League players reached the World Cup semi-finals, but none of them have been nominated for a FIFA Award.

It is not just the World Cup that will be decided at the Maracana, but also the Golden Boot. The very fact that it justifiably pales into insignificance next to the main prize, however, does raise a few questions about the individual award. Of what value is the top scorer trophy if the goals themselves aren't of value?

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You have only to consider the case of Thomas Muller. He is hoping to win his second successive Golden Boot, but there is already so much more merit to his five goals in this World Cup. Here, three of those goals have been genuinely meaningful, since they were the games' opening strikes in three separate Germany wins. By contrast, that was the case with only one of his five in South Africa -- coincidentally, his strike in the quarterfinal against Argentina.

His record in 2010 suddenly looks a little less stellar when put alongside David Villa or Wesley Sneijder from the same tournament. They may not have ended up winning the award, but their goals simply won more games.

With that in mind, we decided to analyse the nature of the goals from all of the historic top scorers and those who ran them closest, in order to determine who has been the most "meaningful" scorer in World Cup history.

Germany's Thomas Mueller is looking to win his second consecutive Golden Boot.
Germany's Thomas Mueller is looking to win his second consecutive Golden Boot.

Some of the higher candidates are surprising; the man at the very top much less so.

1. Gerd Muller (West Germany, 1970)
Games: 6
Goals: 10
Stage of exit: Semifinals
Number of different games scored in: 5
Number of equalisers: 1
Goals to go ahead: 5
Goals to go two ahead: 2
Others: 2
Third/fourth: 0

2. Romario (Brazil, 1994)
Games: 7
Goals: 5
Stage of exit: Winners
Number of different games scored in: 5
Number of equalisers: 1
Goals to go ahead: 4
Goals to go two ahead: 0
Others: 0

3. Paulo Rossi (Italy, 1982)
Games: 7
Goals: 6
Stage of exit: Winners
Number of different games scored in: 3
Number of equalisers: 0
Goals to go ahead: 5
Goals to go two ahead: 1
Others: 0

4. Toto Schillaci (Italy, 1990)
Games: 7
Goals: 6
Stage of exit: Semifinals
Number of different games scored in: 5
Number of equalisers: 0
Goals to go ahead: 5
Goals to go two ahead: 0
Others: 0
Third/fourth: 1

5. Just Fontaine (France, 1958)
Games: 6
Goals: 13
Stage of exit: Semifinals
Number of different games scored in: 5
Number of equalisers: 3
Goals to go ahead: 2
Goals to go two ahead: 2
Others: 2
Third/fourth: 4

6. Ronaldo (Brazil, 2002)
Games: 7
Goals: 8
Stage of exit: Winners
Number of different games scored in: 6
Number of equalisers: 1
Goals to go ahead: 3
Goals to go two ahead: 3
Others: 1

7. Vava (Brazil, 1958)
Games: 4
Goals: 5
Stage of exit: Winners
Number of different games scored in: 3
Number of equalisers: 1
Goals to go ahead: 3
Goals to go two ahead: 1
Others: 0

8. Hristo Stoichkov (Bulgaria, 1994)
Games: 7
Goals: 6
Stage of exit: Semifinals
Number of different games scored in: 5
Number of equalisers: 1
Goals to go ahead: 3
Goals to go two ahead: 1
Others: 1
Third/fourth: 0

9. Mario Kempes (Argentina, 1978)
Games: 7
Goals: 6
Stage of exit: Winners
Number of different games scored in: 2
Number of equalisers: 0
Goals to go ahead: 4
Goals to go two ahead: 1
Others: 1

10. David Villa (Spain, 2010)
Games: 7
Goals: 5
Stage of exit: Winners
Number of different games scored in: 4
Number of equalisers: 0
Goals to go ahead: 4
Goals to go two ahead: 1
Others: 0

David Villa scored four go-ahead goals during Spain's 2010 World Cup campaign, including the quarterfinal winner versus Paraguay.
David Villa scored four go-ahead goals during Spain's 2010 World Cup campaign, including the quarterfinal winner versus Paraguay.

11. Wesley Sneijder (Netherlands, 2010)
Games: 7
Goals: 5
Stage of exit: Final
Number of different games scored in: 4
Number of equalisers: 1
Goals to go ahead: 3
Goals to go two ahead: 1
Others: 0

12. Roberto Baggio (Italy, 1994)
Games: 7
Goals: 5
Stage of exit: Final
Number of different games scored in: 3
Number of equalisers: 1
Goals to go ahead: 3
Goals to go two ahead: 1
Others: 0

13. Eusebio (Portugal, 1966)
Games: 6
Goals: 9
Stage of exit: Semifinal
Number of different games scored in: 4
Number of equalisers: 3
Goals to go ahead: 1
Goals to go two ahead: 4
Others: 1
Third/fourth: 0

14. Grzegorz Lato (Poland, 1974)
Games: 7
Goals: 7
Stage of exit: Second group stage
Number of different games scored in: 4
Number of equalisers: 0
Goals to go ahead: 4
Goals to go two ahead: 1
Others: 1
Third/fourth: 1

15. Johan Neeskens (Netherlands, 1974)
Games: 7
Goals: 5
Stage of exit: Final
Number of different games scored in: 4
Number of equalisers: 0
Goals to go ahead: 4
Goals to go two ahead: 1
Others: 0

16. Jurgen Klinsmann (Germany, 1994)
Games: 5
Goals: 5
Stage of exit: Quarterfinals
Number of different games scored in: 3
Number of equalisers: 1
Goals to go ahead: 3
Goals to go two ahead: 0
Others: 1

17. Gary Lineker (England, 1990)
Games: 7
Goals: 4
Stage of exit: Semifinals
Number of different games scored in: 3
Number of equalisers: 2
Goals to go ahead: 2
Goals to go two ahead: 0
Others: 0

Miguel Delaney

Miguel Delaney is London correspondent for ESPN and also writes for the Irish Examiner, the Independent, Blizzard and assorted others. He is the author of an award-nominated book on the Irish national team called 'Stuttgart to Saipan' (Mentor) and was nominated for Irish sports journalist of the year in 2011.

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