The 1958 World Cup belonged to the Brazilian great Pele. But there was another man; a lesser-known Frenchman who created history. Just Fontaine set a record for the most goals in a World Cup that still remains untouched. Only Miroslav Klose, Ronaldo and Gerd Muller have scored more goals than Fontaine at the tournament but they all needed two or more editions of the competition to do it. So it can be clearly stated that Just Fontaine’s record is still not surpassed by anyone.
Fontaine, who was born to a Norman father and Spanish mother in Marrakech, then part of French Morocco, started his club career with USM Casablanca. He then moved to Nice and later on to Reims where he flourished as a striker.
Despite his free-scoring achievements, Fontaine was only a last-minute call-up to the tournament. But the 24-year old striker was at his peak then having scored 34 goals in 26 league games. He was also fresh for the tournament due to an unplanned winter break for a knee operation.
So, it did not take long for Fontaine to get going in the World Cup. Fontaine scored one goal in their 2-1 win against Scotland and went on to net a hat-trick against Paraguay which the French team won by 7-1. Despite their 3-2 loss to Yugoslavia in which Fontaine scored both goals, France made it through to the quarter finals.
Just Fontaine was flying high with 5 goals in his kitty before the knock-out stages. He scored two more goals against Northern Ireland to give his team a semifinal berth against Pele’s Brazil. In the semifinal France was nowhere near the Brazilians but still Fontaine scored the equalizer- the only goal for his team in the match. Till then his total tally were nine goals from five matches.
It was one match left for Just Fontaine to add to his tally; the third-place play-off against West Germany. The defending champions had lost to Sweden in their semifinal match and were determined to win their lost glory atleast by finishing third. But they were completely demolished by Just Fontaine as he netted four goals in France’s 6-3 win and bringing his tally to ‘lucky 13’.
The record-creating Frenchman’s s Football career was cut short by a leg injury at the age of only 28. So the 1958 sojourn remains his only World Cup. There was no Golden Boot to honour his achievements at that time. But a Swedish newspaper presented him with a rifle to celebrate his marksmanship in front of goal. 56 years later, in 2014, Adidas awarded him a Platinum Boot in Sao Paulo at Brazil in recognition of his incredible long-standing record.