Mike Gibbons

Mike Gibbons is an aspiring young journalist from the UK who has followed the World Cup with passion from an early age. He will share his views about the past, present and future of this event.

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Golden Booty - An assorted history of the World Cup top scorers, Part II

    Last time we looked at the golden boot legends from Eastern Europe, the original golden boot winner Guillermo Stabile and the well known exploits of Kocsis, Muller, Eusebio and Fontaine. Part two looks at the remaining thirteen winners, including the five whose goals helped their country win the World Cup itself. Read on…


    Such a low scoring affair was the 1962 World Cup in Chile that it produced the lowest ever golden boot total – four goals was the highest mark achieved by six different players. Due to these circumstances, and the fact that Pele was injured from the second match onwards, this tournament is often overlooked, but there was some real quality amongst the joint golden boot winners. Lionel Sanchez was the national hero for the hosts, Valentin Ivanov was on target for the USSR, Drazan Jerkovic for Yugoslavia and Florian Albert for Hungary. The two most famous of the six however turned out for Brazil.

    Garrincha, the bandy-legged, womanising, heavy-drinking freak of nature from Botofogo, is one of the more remarkable golden boot winners as he spent nearly his entire illustrious career weaving up and down the right wing to devastating effect. In this tournament he proved his worth on the occasions he drifted infield, particularly in the quarter-final against England, when he scored the goal of the tournament with a blistering 25 yard drive. With Pele out of the team Garrincha picked up the mantle of inspiration, and his performances in this tournament elevate him into the ranks of the greatest ever players in World Cup history. Within a year a horrendous knee injury sent his career into decline and the man himself further into the clutches of alcoholism. He would not live to see his 50th birthday.

    The other Brazilian with four goals was the often (scandalously) overlooked Vava. He had already scored in the semi-final and final (twice) in 1958, Vava delivered again in 1962 with one in the quarter-final, two in the semi-final and one in the final. Only Pele himself can match that sort of strike-rate at the business end of a tournament. His World Cup record reads two tournaments, two wins, ten games played, nine goals scored. No player has achieved more and been regarded less.


    The 1986 World Cup in Mexico was going horribly for England. Having lost to Portugal they then drew with Morocco where they lost their captain to injury and their vice captain to a ludicrous red card. Step forward Gary Lineker, who had been unable to hit the proverbial barn door in his previous six internationals, yet saved the day with a hat-trick against Poland to put England into the knockout stages. Two more followed against Paraguay and a late consolation against Argentina won him the golden boot. Cue a £2 million pound transfer to Barcelona, international fame and, latterly, a stint as the most irritatingly smug host of a football highlights programme the world has ever known. Indeed, his ability to crowbar the words 'Leicester' or 'crisps' into any given sentence is only surpassed by the ability he had in the penalty area. Another four goals at Italia 90 would guarantee him the mantle of England's greatest ever striker.

    Italia 90 saw one of the most remarkable stories of all the golden boot winners. Salvatore 'Toto' Schillachi entered the World Cup having had a good season with Juventus, but was behind Vialli, Serena, Carnevale, Mancini and Baggio in the pecking order of forwards – not overly surprising when only the season before Schillaci had been plying his trade in Serie B with Messina. In a superb example of being on your toes when opportunity knocks, Schillaci came off the bench and scored the winning goal three minutes later against Austria in the opening round and never looked back. The pick of his six golden boot winning strikes was against Uruguay in round two, where he latched onto a flick-on from Serena and hammered a dipping drive past the helpless Fernando Alvez. Everything he touched with head or boot seemed to be going in, and luck was smiling on him – for his goal in the semi-final against Argentina he was a good three yards offside. Despite his new status as national saviour, he could not prevent his team losing the game on penalties.

    What should have been the platform for his career to take off however quickly became an albatross around his neck. Now more tightly marked than ever before, his form disappeared overnight, he was out of the Italy team a year later, a transfer to Inter did not work out and he spent the rest of his playing days in the fledgling J-League in Japan, his relegation to obscurity seemingly as quick as his rise from it.


    You'll have to believe me on this one folks, but football did exist in Brazil before anyone had heard of Pele. Leonidas of Brazil is perhaps the greatest pre-World War 2 player and is often credited with the invention of the bicycle kick. Having already served notice of his potential in Italy in 1934, Leonidas was top of the pile in 1938, scoring eight times as Brazil negotiated their way to the semi-finals. In one bizarre game with Poland that ended 6-5, Leonidas and Polish striker Ernst Willimowski each scored four times. This was later followed by an act of supreme lunacy from the Brazilian management who 'rested' Leonidas and their playmaker Tim for the semi-final against incumbent world champions Italy, hoping to have them fresh for the final. Inevitably, that final would never happen as Italy won 2-1 on their way to their second Jules Rimet trophy.

    In 1950 the tournament was hosted by Brazil, and their star striker Ademir became the first player to light up the giant, purpose-built Maracana Stadium as he scored nine goals to put Brazil in prime position to win the abominable and quickly abandoned final group stage. Brazil only needed a draw to win the tournament, but to the horror of the nation they let a one goal lead slip to an admirably defiant Uruguay team and lost the trophy. Ademir would later claim that this was due to the Brazil team being forced to go to Mass at 7am on the morning of the final.


    The 1982 Finals in Spain provided one of the more controversial winners of the Golden Boot. For his involvement in the Totonero match fixing scandal that broke in 1980 Paolo Rossi, scorer of three goals in Argentina in 1978 and one of Italy's brightest young stars, was banned from football for three years, later commuted to two to make him available for selection in 1982. Juventus bought him whilst he was still suspended and Rossi returned to football in April 1982 and was immediately selected in the Azzuri squad.

    Initially, you could be forgiven for wondering what all the fuss was about. Rossi became the national scapegoat as Italy barely made it out of their first round group with three draws, and had a personal nightmare against Argentina even though his team won 2-1. Despite calls for him to be dropped Enzo Bearzot kept faith in Rossi and on July 5th he scored perhaps the most famous hat-trick in football history to beat the brilliant Brazil team of Socrates, Zico et al and put his team in the semi-finals. Two more followed in the semi final against Poland three days later and then on the 11th July he scored a diving header that was the catalyst for his team's 3-1 win in the final over West Germany. In six days he had gone from hate icon to the provider of the greatest moment of unity in the social history of his nation.

    Winning the World Cup is special. Winning the World Cup in your own country is extra special. Winning the World Cup in your own country and being the top goalscorer and tournaments best player is…well, I don't think there are words to describe that. If you want to know how it feels, you'd have to ask Mario Kempes, as he did exactly that for Argentina in 1978. Like Rossi he didn't score in the first round but came alive in the second group stage, scoring twice against both Poland and Peru, before scoring twice in the final on a ticker-tape covered surface against the Dutch. He may even have got a hat-trick had a bizarre ricochet in the area fallen to him and not Luque to make it 3-1.

    As we all know, the 1978 Mundiale in Argentina is the most controversial of all time. The sham that was the 6-0 win by the hosts over Peru that put them in the final is the most infamous incident, and provided Kempes with two of his goals. It seems that Argentina were always going to win that tournament, particularly with that disgrace of a regime in power – there are even widespread allegations that several of the Argentine players had their performances chemically enhanced and then covered up. I have no trouble in believing that Kempes could reach the levels he did that summer, as he was already a star player with Valencia in Spain, so it's entirely conceivable that he would have won the golden boot anyway, and the golden ball for best player. Everything else though….


    We end, fittingly enough, with the most recent World Cup in Japan and South Korea. For most of 2002 it did not seem that Ronaldo would be fit in time for the tournament, and what use would he be anyway? He had barely played in three years after a succession of injuries, and the pressures of the last World Cup in France had culminated in a farcical sequence of events that led to a clearly unfit and unwell Ronaldo being forced into action in the final, where he and his team were humiliated. At the tail-end of the 2001-02 season he had returned to the Inter Milan team and scored a few goals, but his re-introduction coincided with Inter blowing their best chance of the championship in years. He may have been playing again, but his career looked beyond repair. And then…

    In an object lesson of why you should never right off great players, Ronaldo made the 2002 World Cup his own, scoring 8 goals for a Brazil team that had struggled to qualify to secure their 5th World Cup. FIFA dealt Brazil a dolly of an opening round group against Turkey, Costa Rica and China, allowing Ronaldo to play his way back in to form, the end result being two well taken goals to win the final against Germany. He was later substituted which rather harshly denied him the chance of a hat-trick (the coach Scolari would later criticise his performances in the tournament) and his haircut of choice was ridiculous, but Ronaldo was back and had redeemed himself from his despair of four years earlier.

    And next summer, injury permitting, he will have the chance to do it all again. No one has ever won the golden boot twice before but records are there to be broken and he could be the first non-European to win the golden boot in Europe since his compatriot Leonidas. No forward outside of Europe or South America has ever won it, could that trend be broken as well? Samuel Eto'o is probably the best centre-forward in the world right now, but Cameroon may not even make the finals. Andriy Shevchencko and the Ukraine could make their debut, perhaps he will add his name to the great roll call of players from Eastern Europe. Wayne Rooney could begin a long and fruitful relationship with World Cup goals and maybe Thierry Henry might finally turn up and score in some important games. Some 130 forwards and who knows how many attacking midfielders will have a chance at it. Quite a field, and as we have seen, the winner can often come from the most unexpected source.



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