Miroslav Klose is a fine footballer. He might not be the type of figure to earn global fame in the manner of a Messi, a Ronaldo or an Ibrahimovic, but his solid record over 15 years for Kaiserslauten, Werder Bremen, Bayern Munich and, most recently, Lazio, have earned him a reputation that is quietly solid, if not spectacular.
As soon as the Polish-born star slips on his Germany shirt, however, all that changes: he becomes something of a monster, and one who has earned the right to rub shoulders with the greatest ever at international level. He has 68 goals in 131 appearances spanning 13 years with his national team - and stands on the threshold of one of the biggest records in the game, as he could well become the highest-scoring player in World Cup history.
Klose will turn 36 three days before the World Cup kicks off in Brazil on June 12, but despite his age he is still a regular for his country. Germany boss Jogi Loew is a huge fan, has had him in all his squads since he took over the national side, and barring injury he is certain to make an appearance - and quite possibly even start - when Die Mannschaft start their World Cup campaign against Portugal on June 16.
He needs just one goal to equal Brazilian legend Ronaldo's record of 15 goals at World Cups - and that strike would also see him overtake Gerd Mueller as Germany's greatest ever goalscorer, on 69. If he can score at the same rate he usually scores during World Cups (he notched five goals in both 2002 and 2006, and four more in 2010) then he is certain to surpass Ronaldo's record.
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1. Ronaldo (Brazil)
• 15 goals, 19 matches, 4 tournaments
When he rounded goalkeeper Richard Kingson and slotted home after just five minutes of Brazil's last-16 tie against Ghana on June 27 2006, Ronaldo Luis Nazário de Lima, the 'original Ronaldo', became the highest scorer in World Cup history. It was his 15th goal on football's biggest stage and was a fitting reward for a player who possessed strength, power, pace and technique in abundance. Even more remarkable is that 11 of those 15 goals came after two career-threatening knee injuries led one doctor to write his career off.
2. Gerd Mueller (West Germany)
• 14 goals, 13 matches, 2 tournaments
The record Ronaldo surpassed on that night in Dortmund had previously belonged to Gerd Mueller, another of the game's greats. And while Ronaldo took four editions of the World Cup to reach his mark, 'Der Bomber' set the bar at 14 after just two. Incredibly, the Germany striker bagged 10 in 1970, during what is widely regarded as one of the best World Cups ever seen. And four years later he added a further four, his last one, in the final against Holland, proving the most memorable - not only did it take him past Just Fontaine's record of 13, but it won the World Cup for Germany too. It also proved to be his last goal for his country, as he brought the curtain down on his international career after the game.
3. Miroslav Klose (Germany)
• 14 goals, 19 matches, 3 tournaments
There is one man on this list who could yet shake up the top places and that is Miroslav Klose. At the ripe old age of 36, the Germany legend has one more tournament left in him to net goal number 15 to move clear of his childhood idol Mueller, and maybe even number 16 to overhaul Ronaldo. The Lazio striker has said he will retire from the international scene after this summer in Brazil meaning that, fitness prevailing, he has at least three games to secure his position as the best World Cup goalscorer of all time.
4. Just Fontaine (France)
• 13 goals, 6 matches, 1 tournament
The legendary French centre-forward may have shone for just one summer, but what a crazy, goal-laden summer it was. The tournament in Sweden was positively dripping with Fontaine goals in 1958 - four against West Germany, a hat-trick against Paraguay, a pair of braces against Yugoslavia and Northern Ireland, and strikes against Scotland and Brazil - and he remains to this day the player who has scored the most in a single edition of a World Cup. That record, in these days of cannier defences, is showing no signs of being beaten any time soon.
5. Pele (Brazil)
• 12 goals, 14 matches, 4 tournaments
At the tender age of 17, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, usually shortened to Pele, already had six goals and a World Cup title to his name. What came next was hardly prolific, but nevertheless helped cement his reputation as one of, if not the, greatest player of all time. He managed to add just two more goals over the next two editions before the touch paper was eventually lit once more in 1970 as his four goals helped him and Brazil to a third World Cup success in Mexico.
6. Sandor Kocsis (Hungary)
• 11 goals, 5 matches, 1 tournament
It's difficult to imagine a more emphatic way to begin a World Cup career than Sandor Kocsis' blistering debut against South Korea in Hungary's opening match at the 1954 World Cup. The Magical Magyars' frontman claimed a hat-trick in a 9-0 win and it was clear that a star had been delivered to the world stage. Kocsis was not finished there, though, and he went on to find the back of the net four times against West Germany in his next game, before claiming another two against Brazil and two more against Uruguay in the semis. Kocsis had not only beaten the previous record set by Brazilian Ademir four years earlier, he had smashed it.
7. Helmut Rahn (West Germany)
• 10 goals, 10 matches, 2 tournaments
Over the course of two tournaments, Helmut Rahn, the Gerd Mueller of the 1950s if you will, ensured people sat up and took notice thanks to his formidable feats in front of goal. It might never have been that way though, as the Rot-Weiss Essen striker, nicknamed 'Der Boss', was not included in the original German party set for Switzerland. Having left Germany with his club for a tour of Uruguay, he was eventually recalled to the squad, fortunately for the Germans as he was soon to become the hero of the 'Miracle of Bern', scoring twice, including the winner, in the 3-2 upset of Hungary to lift the World Cup.
8. Gabriel Batistuta (Argentina)
• 10 goals, 12 matches, 3 tournaments
Regarded at one of the greatest goal-getters of the 1990s, Gabriel Batistuta's reputation was partly forged and then cemented at World Cup tournaments. In 1994, 'Batigol' scored four, including a hat-trick against Greece in Argentina's opening match, before he added five more to his tally in France four years later, with another hat-trick, this time against Jamaica in Paris, helping bolster his impressive figures. Just one more in the win over Nigeria in 2002 took Batistuta to 10 - ahead of his fellow Argentines Guillermo Stabile, Diego Maradona and Mario Kempes.
• 10 goals, 13 matches, 3 tournaments
Peru are not currently a force to be reckoned with in world football, but back in the 1970s when they had Teofilo Cubillas in their line-up, they were. The forward, one of the best South American players ever to grace a pitch, boasts an incredible strike rate at World Cups. In 1970, he was one of the major players in an entertaining tournament in Mexico, scoring five times in four games, one against West Germany and another against Brazil. A star was born. Cubillas missed out on the tournament in 1974 as Peru failed to qualify but he and his team returned in Argentina four years down the track and he repeated his feat of scoring five times, including a hat-trick against Iran. Cubillas was then given a glorious opportunity to add to his tally in 1982, but his 33 years finally caught up with him and was left on 10.
10. Grzegorz Lato (Poland)
• 10 goals, 20 matches, 3 tournaments
1974 was a good year for football romantics, particularly if they were watching Poland at the World Cup. Goalkeeper Jan Tomaszewski, captain Kazimierz Deyna and perhaps most of all the attacking trio of Grzegorz Lato, Robert Gadocha and Anderzej Szarmach all captured the public's imagination in Germany. Lato, with seven goals, took home the golden boot and it was his solitary goal against Brazil that gave Poland a remarkable third-place finish. He went one better four years later, scoring twice more against Brazil before reaching his final tally of 10 with an effort against Peru in 1982 as Poland again reached the semi-finals.
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- Miroslav Klose
- Gerd Mueller
- West Germany