FIFA’s Golden Boot was introduced at the 1930 World Cup in Uruguay and is awarded to the World Cup top goalscorer. The Golden Boot roll of honour includes some of the greatest names in football history although it’s an award that eluded Pele who is universally acknowledged as the greatest player ever.
Pele played 14 games in four World Cup final tournaments helping Brazil to lift the trophy in 1958, 1962 and 1970. The nearest he became to World Cup top scorer was in 1958 in Sweden where he scored six goals but was outdone by the remarkable French striker Just Fontaine who score 13 times in six matches – a World Cup record to this day.
Looking at the history of the World Cup, it’s surprising to see the eventual winners have only produced the Golden Boot winner on four occasions; Angelo Schiavvi for Italy who shared the honour with Oldrich Nejedly (Czechoslovakia) and Edmund Conen (Germany) in 1934, Mario Kempes won it for Argentina in 1978, Paulo Rossi for Italy in 1982 and Ronaldo for Brazil in 2002.
Who Will Be 2014 World Cup Top Goalscorer?
Pre-tournament betting on the 2014 World Cup top goalscorer was dominated by Brazilian wunderkid, Neymar and Argentina striker Lionel Messi – as forecast by Opta when they released their Golden Boot prediction at the end of last year.
From Opta’s top ten goalscorer predictions, Colombian striker Radamel Falcao was unfortunate to miss the tournament through injury. Other than that, Ronaldo (Portugal), Suarez (Uruguay), Fred (Brazil), Aguero (Argentina) and Higuain (Argentina) all figured prominently in the 2014 World Cup Top Goalscorer betting with Ozil considered an outsider following a relatively quiet debut season at Arsenal.
Neymar got off to an ideal start, justifying his position at the head of the World Cup Top Scorer betting market with two goals in the opening game against Croatia. Even the most fanatical Brazil supporters will accept it wasn’t the most spellbinding performance from the hosts or their talisman striker. However, Neymar and his team still managed to beat their Group A rivals 3-1 and the Barcelona player went on to net four times in the group stage.
Sadly, Neymar suffered an injury in Brazil's quarter-final victory against Colombia when a fractured bone in his spine ruled him out of the rest of the World Cup and ending his chances of being Top Goalscorer. At that point in the tournament Neymar had scored four goals and trailed James Rodriguez who scored his sixth World Cup goal for Colombia in the fateful match.
2010 Golden Boot winner, Thomas Muller was one of the sensations at the World Cup in South Africa. At the tender age of 20, the German attacker announced himself on the world stage when scoring five goals and winning the Golden Boot by virtue of providing more assists than Spain’s David Villa and Netherland’s Wesley Schneider who finished with the same number of goals. Muller made an immediate impact in Brazil when scoring a hattrick in Germany’s sensational 4-0 win against Portugal in the opening Group G match. He scored his fourth goal of the 2014 World Cup in the 1-0 victory against USA to send his side safely into the knockout stage.
Muller's valuable contribution in the last 16 victory against Algeria and the Germany's 1-0 win over France in the quarter-finals did not include getting amongst the goals. It was a similar story for other leading contenders and with the semi-finals to come, Muller was two goals behind leading goalscorer James Rodriguez whose World Cup adventure ended when Colombia were knocked out by Brazil. The semi-final against the hosts produced the biggest shock of the tournament when Germany stunned the nation with five goals in the first half hour. Muller opened the scoring with his only goal of the game as Germany booked their place in the 2014 World Cup final with an amazing 7-1 victory.
Karim Benzema has arguably been the best performer in the Group stage of the World Cup having a hand in the five of the first eight goals scored by France. The French striker can count himself unlucky to have been credited with only three goals in the group phase. He had a penalty saved in the 5-2 victory over Switzerland and the referee ruled out his last ditch goal in the same game, judging the ball had crossed the line after the final whistle had blown.
Benzima bowed out of the World Cup when Germany beat France 1-0 in the quarter-finals. The French striker was left to rue his last minute miss that could have kept his tournament along with an outside chance of finishing World Cup top goalscorer. However Benzema left Brazil with some memorable performances for his country nad having scored three goals and providing two assists.
Netherland’s forwards Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben have three goals apiece after the group stage and winning Group B means they should have more opportunities to build on their tallies. Van Persie was suspended for the final group game and returned against Mexico. The Dutch striker was substituted when Netherlands were trailing 1-0 in the game, the team went on to win the game with two late goals. Netherlands were fortunate to survive a hard fought quarter-final against Costa Rica when the match remained undecided with a blank score sheet after extra time. Van Persie dispatched his penalty with aplomb as Netherlands went on to win the shoot-out to set up a semi-final against Argentina, the goal however does not count towards World Cup Top Goalscorer.
Lionel Messi scored in each of the first three games without really dominating in the way he has for Barcelona. However, Argentina can surely only get better as the competition unfolds so don’t expect the bookies to be overly generous about Messi becoming World Cup 2014 Top Goalscorer.
Argentina had to show great resolve to come through the first two knock out games, taking until extra time for Angel di Maria to hit home the only goal of the last 16 game against Switzerland and Gonzalo Higuain's 8th minute strike proving enough to send the South Americans through to the semi-finals at the expense of Belgium.
After scoring both goals against Uruguay to help steer Colombia into the quarter finals, James Rodriguez has gone from being a lively outsider to disputing favouritism in the World Cup 2014 Top Goalscorer. Currently with 5 goals to his name, Rodriguez's chances have been greatly improved, but much will rely on how far Colombia can go in Brazil.
The quarter final showdown against hosts Brazil witnessed the end of the youngster's participation in the 2014 World Cup. Rodriguez left the field in tears after Colombia bravely succumbed 2-1, assisted by another goal from the 22-year-old striker who scored an 80th minute penalty to set up a rousing finish to the game. The goal took his tally to six and despite an early exit he may have done enough to win the World Cup Top Goalscorer.
The Golden Boot has been shared twice, most recently Oleg Salenko (Russia) and Hristo Stoitchkov (Bulgaria) in 1994, but FIFA have since introduced a tie breaker if more than one player finishes with the same number of World Cup goals. The award will go to the player with most assists and if there is still a tie, the player with the least time on pitch will receive the Golden Boot.
When it comes to bookmakers’ rules for settling World Cup Top Goalscorer bets, it pays to check individual terms but dead heat rules apply with leading online bookmakers like bet365, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power and William Hill. So if more than one player ties with most World Cup goals, stakes will be divided by the number of players in the tie – regardless of FIFA’s decision for the Golden Boot.