Will Miroslav Klose’s goalscoring record at World Cups ever be beaten?

World Cup fever has officially spread across the globe with the action in Qatar now underway. It remains to be seen what type of contest the showpiece in the desert turns out to be and where it will eventually rank out of the 21 World Cups that have gone before it. One feature that could help propel Qatar to the top of the list in people’s minds is goals and lots of them.

Indeed, World Cups are often judged by how many goals are scored over the four weeks in which the tournament takes place and everyone hopping on a Qatar Airways flight to the Middle East will undoubtedly be hoping to see them in abundance. With this in mind, it goes without saying that the players who are able to find the back of the net during football’s greatest competition are remembered forever. One man who did that more than anyone else in history was Miroslav Klose who ended up scoring 16 goals over the course of his World Cup career. Today, it is a record that stands and perhaps, won’t be beaten anytime soon but before we look at the possible contenders, let’s focus on Klose’s ruthless efficiency in front of goal. 

Mirsolav the marksman 

Klose was a German striker who, more than anything, made his name at World Cups. That’s not to say that the 44-year-old was ineffective at domestic level but rather that he transformed from good to great when he turned out for Germany at World Cups.

Going back, Klose’s first taste of scoring at a World Cup came in 2002 during Germany’s first group game of the tournament against Saudi Arabia. On that occasion, it would take the striker as little as 20 minutes to find the back of the net en route to scoring a hattrick against the shell-shocked Saudis who would go on to lose 8-0. 

It was certainly a case of starting as you mean to go for Klose at World Cups who would, all in all, score five goals at the 2002 competition in South Korea and Japan before adding another five in Germany four years later. This impressive run of scoring at World Cups continued in South Africa after the forward netted another four more in the Rainbow Nation in 2010 during a tournament full of brilliant goals.

Remarkably, history was then made at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil where Klose needed just two goals to surpass Ronaldo Nazario’s all-time record of 15 goals. As it happened, the German was able to score the all-important 16th goal to take the outright lead when he found the back of the net against Brazil during the 23rd minute of their semi-final encounter. Incredibly, the Germans would go on to win that game 7-1 before lifting the World Cup in Rio de Janeiro five days later.

#OnThisDay five year ago, Miroslav Klose scored his record-breaking 16th FIFA #WorldCup goal in @DFB_Team_EN‘s 7-1 semi-final win over Brazil pic.twitter.com/1v8DMoa1AT — FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) July 8, 2019

It was a fairytale end for Germany’s greatest-ever marksman at World Cups who flew out of Brazil with not only football’s ultimate prize but also a goalscoring record that looks set to remain in place for a long time to come. 

Who could realistically pass Klose’s record?

The closest player to Klose’s record who is still active is one of the Premier League‘s best signings and greatest players on the planet, Cristiano Ronaldo, who has seven World Cup goals to his name. However, the 2022 World Cup in Qatar looks to be Ronaldo’s last given that he will be 41 when the next one starts in 2026. Essentially, this means that the showstopping Portuguese winger will need to score ten goals in Qatar which is a possibility that seems at best, remote, given that Ronaldo’s highest-ever goal tally at a World Cup is four. 

How close is Harry Kane to Klose’s record?

Similarly, Harry Kane, who has six World Cup goals to his name, would have to score 11 goals in Qatar to overtake Klose but crucially, the England captain has at least one World Cup left in him after this one which, all of a sudden, makes the equation slightly more plausible. This is, at least, when you also consider that Kane won the Golden Boot in 2018 when he scored half a dozen goals. To make matters even more intriguing, Kane is, as of the 21st of November, the favorite in the latest online betting to once again finish as the top goalscorer during the 2022 World Cup after being priced at 8/1. So, can Kane score 11 goals between now and the end of the World Cup in America in 2026?

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 What. A. Moment. 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿

Throwback to when Harry Kane scored the goal that sent England to their first major tournament final since 1966 😍#ITVFootball #Euro2020 pic.twitter.com/QBCG7SIqmj — ITV Football (@itvfootball) December 24, 2021

You should never say never in football but it would require a Herculean effort from Kane to achieve this level of consistency, especially at the showpiece in the US when he will, in all likelihood, be in the final stages of his international career.

In addition to this and with the advances in technology that football has seen with regards to VAR, which significantly, was not around during Klose’s international career, it is now unquestionably harder to score a goal at the World Cup whilst under the microscope of the uncompromising video referees.

In reality, with Ronaldo about to bow out of international football and Kane in a race against time that looks impossible to win, you once again come back to the conclusion that Klose’s extraordinary record will remain in place for the foreseeable future.

Christopher Stern

Christopher Stern is a Washington-based reporter. Chris spent many years covering tech policy as a business reporter for renowned publications. He has extensive experience covering Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Federal Trade Commissions. He is a graduate of Middlebury College. Email:[email protected]

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