Who Is The Greatest International Striker Of All Time As Chelsea Star Olivier Giroud Breaks Into France Top Three?
A brilliant week of international fixtures has come to a close. France made it back-to-back victories, with wins over Moldova and Iceland in their first UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers, by an aggregate score of eight with just the one goal in reply.
Thirty-two-year-old Chelsea forward Olivier Giroud, with a goal in each game, propelled himself into the upper echelons of Les Bleus record-writers, becoming the third-highest goalscorer in the nation’s history. Giroud was only granted his France first-team debut at the age of 25. He initially matched David Trezeguet’s haul, against Moldova, standing with a tally of 34, and surpassed it against Iceland.
Giroud - on 35 goals for France - now only has Michel Platini (41) and Thierry Henry (51) ahead of him in the prestigious list. Whilst, with his advancing years, it would be highly unlikely for Giroud to catch up to Henry, if he continues at the same pace he has been gunning at recently for France (three in his last three games, with a preceding friendly against Uruguay in which he scored the winner), Platini may do well to start looking over his shoulder.
Bronze-position in his country’s goal-scoring history books is a remarkable achievement, coupled with his World Cup winner’s medal gained in Russia last year, and certainly deserves to be counted as one of France’s greatest-ever strikers based solely on his profligacy in blue.
But how does he measure up alongside the pantheons of other great goal-scorers for World Cup winning countries. There have been eight nations to have picked up the most coveted trophy in football and The Sportsman investigates the top three marksmen for each of these countries, in the order that they first reached those paralleled heights.
- Luis Suarez (2007- ): 55 goals / 106 caps
- Edinson Cavani (2008- ): 46 goals / 109 caps
- Diego Forlan (2002-2014): 36 goals / 112 caps
Unfortunately, none of that stellar trio have brought home the illustrious trophy (yet). The double-pronged attack of Suarez and Cavani over the past decade have arguably created the most enviable attacking partnership in international football.
- Luigi Riva (1965-1974): 35 goals / 42 caps
- Giuseppe Meazza (1930-1939): 33 goals / 53 caps
- Silvio Piola (1935-1952): 30 goals / 34 caps
Giroud would find himself nicely top of this particular table in Italy, although he would have to share the spotlight with ‘Rombo di Tuono’. The legendary Meazza helped Italy to win consecutive World Cups in 1934 and 1938, the latter with Piola assisting in leading the line and who became that tournament’s joint-second highest goalscorer.
- Miroslav Klose (2001-2014): 71 goals / 137 caps
- Gerd Müller (1966-1974): 68 goals / 62 caps
- Lukas Podolski (2004-2017): 49 goals / 130 caps
Klose is also the top goalscorer in the history of the World Cup, with 16 goals. He also joined illustrious luminaries Sepp Maier, Franz Beckenbauer, Wolfgang Overath, Jürgen Grabowski and Horst-Dieter Höttges and Franco Baresi in his last tournament for country. With the extra-time win over Argentina in 2014, Klose became the seventh player in history to win gold, silver and bronze medals at the FIFA World Cup.
Gerd Muller's record is utterly insatiable, Der Bomber achieving a strike rate of 1.10 in an eight-year international career wherein he won the World Cup and picked up the Golden Boot.
- Pele (1957-1971): 77 goals / 92 caps
- Ronaldo (1994-2011): 62 goals / 98 caps
- Neymar (2010- ): 60 goals / 96 caps
Did you know Pele was good? He really needs to tell us about it. The 27-year-old Neymar has four years before he reaches the age that Pele stepped down from international duty, but already has four caps more (as of March 26th 2019).
- Wayne Rooney (2003-2018): 53 goals / 120 caps
- Bobby Charlton (1958-1970): 49 goals / 106 caps
- Gary Lineker (1984-1992): 48 goals / 80 caps
It often seemed that that personal achievement was at the forefront of Rooney’s mind before the cup competitions themselves. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. However, when Rooney equalled then bypassed Sir Bobby Charlton’s near-half century long in September 2017, it was with a certain disappointment that this record hadn’t been matched by silverware for the Three Lions. 1986 World Cup Golden Boot winner Lineker achieved an excellent goal-scoring ratio.
- Lionel Messi (2005- ): 65 goals / 129 caps
- Gabriel Batistuta (1991-2002): 54 goals / 77 caps
- Sergio Aguero (2006- ): 39 goals / 89 caps
You, of course, knew that Lionel Messi would top this particular list.
- Thierry Henry (1997-2010): 51 goals / 123 caps
- Michel Platini (1976-1987): 41 goals / 72 caps
- Olivier Giroud (2011- ): 35 goals / 89 caps
Though Henry tops the list, that strike rate pales in comparison to the 228 goals he scored in 375 matches at club level with Arsenal, where he played the majority of his career.
- David Villa (2005- ): 59 goals / 98 caps
- Raul (1996-2006): 44 goals / 102 caps
- Fernando Torres (2003- ): 38 goals / 110 caps
David Villa - still playing away, in Japan, with Vissel Kobe - is the first ever Spanish player to reach 50 goals. Villa is joined by Real Madrid legend Raul in second, with Fernando Torres (also in Japan) getting bronze.
Olivier Giroud may well feel a sense of smug self-satisfaction knowing he would be sitting pretty at the top of the Italy charts.
Though third-time World Cup winner Pele has the highest goal tally of any of the aforementioned nations, it could well be surpassed by Lionel Messi in the future.
For sheer efficiency, with over a goal a game, (West) Germany’s Gerd Müller almost certainly rules the roost, with the silverware to match. Utterly sensational.
NOTE: Cristiano Ronaldo currently has 85 goals in 156 caps for Portugal.