Best Individual World Cup Performances Of All Time
With the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar fast approaching we can look back on times when one player has dominated the competition, and with many exciting players in this year's edition of the tournament, a player could dominate like the 10 in the upcoming World Cup.
10. Walter Zenga, Italy : 1990 Italy
The Italian goalkeeper at the 1990 World Cup, Walter Zenga got a record for the most consecutive minutes in the World Cup without letting in a goal. Playing on home soil in in the 1990 World Cup, the Italian lasted 517 minutes without letting in a goal. His record was broken in the semi finals when Argentina scored, and then the South Americans went on to win the game in a penalty shoot out.
9. Eusébio, Portugal : 1966 England
Eusébio was the leader of the highest finishing Portugal side ever, his 9 goals (Most in the 1966 World Cup) were able to get Portugal 3rd place, after they lost to England in the semi finals. Eusébio was able to score 4 goals against North Korea in the game before, one of 'Black Panther's' (His nickname) best games.
8. Zinedine Zidane, France : 1998 France
Zinedine Zidane wasn't the top scorer or the golden ball winner, but he was the reason France succeeded. His leadership despite not being captain and his amazing chance creation and passing got France to the final against Brazil, where his two headers off of well taken corners secured a 3-0 win against the reigning champions for France's first World Cup victory.
7. Pelé, Brazil : 1958 Sweden
You can't make a list about individual performance on the World Cup stage without including Pelé, his performances in the World Cup are legendary. He shocked the world when his skills were shown off to such large crowds at the age of 17 during the 1958 World Cup. The teenager scored 6 goals in the tournament, with 2 crucial goals against Sweden in the final. This won Pelé Brazil's first World Cup, and 2nd in the golden boot race.
6. Geoff Hurst, England : 1966 England
Geoff Hurst led England to their first major trophy, and their only World Cup. His first goal of the tournament was in the quarter finals, where his one goal was decisive, as England won 1-0. In the semi finals Hurst got an assist that gave them a 2-1 win over Eusébio's Portugal side. In the World Cup Finals was where Hurst really shined, England went down 1-0 against Germany but then Hurst got one back, England took the lead but Germany made it 2-2 in the 90th minute. The game went into extra time, where Hurst scored in the 101st minute and again in the 120th, which gave England a World Cup, and he became the only player to score a hat trick in the World Cup Final.
5. Garrincha, Brazil : 1962 Chile
After Pelé got injured, Garrincha took over for Brazil and ended up tying 5 other players for the most goals in the tournament. Garrincha scored in the quarter finals and semi finals, as the he, one of the best right wingers of all time carried the Brazilian team on his shoulders to their second World Cup victory, which they won over Czechoslovakia 3-1.
4. Sándor Kocsis, Hungary : 1954 Switzerlan
Sándor Kocsis scored 11 goals and led Hungary to the World Cup Final against West Germany. Kocsis became the first player to record multiple hat tricks in one World Cup. The Hungarian was able to score twice in the quarterfinals and semi finals, but he could not find the net in the finals, as his team lost to West Germany. He was nicknamed the Golden Head because of how good he was at finding the net on aerial opportunities.
3. Just Fontaine, France : 1958 Sweden
Just Fontaine has a record formed that no one will beat for a very long time, 13 goals in one World Cup, and that was in only six games as the French squad were not able to make it to the finals. Just became the second player to score multiple hat tricks in one World Cup and is the 4th top scorer in FIFA World Cup history, despite only playing in one World Cup. He won the Golden Boot (Award given to the top scorer), even though Pelé, considered the greatest of all time, was also competing in the World Cup.
2. Oliver Kahn, Germany : 2002 South Korea and Japan
Oliver Kahn, the German goalkeeper had the best performance by a goalie in World Cup history, the 2002 German squad was weak, and without Kahn, they wouldn't have made it out of the group stage. From the first group stage game to the semi finals, Oliver Kahn, without much help from the German defence, only let in 1 goal in six matches. In the finals vs Brazil, Germany did crumble, and they lost the game 2-0. But Oliver Kahn became the only goalkeeper to win the Golden Ball, given to the best player of the tournament.
1. Diego Maradona, Argentina : 1986 Mexico
Maradona's 1986 World Cup is generally remembered by one game, the quarter finals, Argentina vs England. In this game the two sides had lots of tension, as they had recently fought each other for the Falkland Islands, which resulted in the many deaths, especially for the Argentines. More controversy was stirred up when the first goal of the match was scored by Maradona's hand, which went down as the 'Hand of God' after the referee did not call it a handball. Then, 4 minutes later in the 55th minute Maradona scored what can only be described as the greatest goal of all time, after dribbling past 4 England players (One of them twice), he then continued past the keeper and shot the ball... and scored. This goal was voted goal of the century and perfectly showcases how well Maradona did in the 1986 World Cup. Argentina won that game and continued to the semi finals where another two goals by Maradona earned them a 2-0 win over Belgium. In the finals Argentina had played West Germany to 2-2, but in the 85th minute Maradona put a through ball in between the West German defenders that left his team mate, Jorge Burruchaga open to score the winning goal, Maradona was able to lift the trophy and win the Golden Ball, the award for the best player at the World Cup.