Held aloft by his team-mates after the final whistle, France’s Just Fontaine had achieved something truly remarkable. The Marrakesh-born striker had netted four goals against defending champions West Germany in the Match for Third Place at Sweden 1958, with Les Blues running out 6-3 winners in Gothenburg, bringing Fontaine’s tournament haul to a staggering 13 goals in six matches.
To this day, Justo still maintains the record for the most goals scored at one FIFA World Cup™ tournament, a feat that seems near impossible to surpass. What perhaps makes his already-incredible record even more remarkable is that Sweden 1958 was Fontaine’s first, and only, World Cup.
Only Miroslav Klose, Ronaldo and Gerd Muller have scored more goals than the former Casablanca, Nice and Stade de Reims star at the tournament – and all needed two or more editions of the competition to do it. So what was the key to Fontaine devastating defences with his record 13 strikes during that Scandinavian summer?
“For my World Cup record, my big advantage was that I'd had an operation on my knee in December 1957 and came back in February,” said Fontaine. “That gave me a little winter break which meant that, in June, I was fresh and the others weren’t.”
It didn’t take long for Fontaine to get going. After scoring a hat-trick against Paraguay in France’s opener, the then 24-year-old finished the group stages with six to his name, before bagging a brace against Northern Ireland in the quarter-finals and netting once against Brazil in their 5-2 semi-final defeat. France’s No.17 then proved a nightmare for West Germany goalkeeper Heinz Kwiatkowski in the Match for Third Place, netting four as he brought his tally to 13.
Borrowed boots for the record breaker
He did it all with a pair of borrowed boots, too. After wearing out his footwear, back-up forward Stephane Bruey came to Fontaine’s aid, lending him his own same-sized boots. "I like to tell people that some of my goals were inspired by combining two spirits inside the same shoe," joked Fontaine.
The Frenchman's sensational World Cup exploits sadly proved a one-off, however, as Fontaine was forced to end his career in 1962 at the age of 28. He was presented with the adidas Platinum Boot in Sao Paulo at Brazil 2014 in recognition of his incredible long-standing record and remained coy about whether or not someone will ever surpass his record.
"I have no idea if it'll be beaten as I'm not a soothsayer,” he told FIFA.com in 2014. “But I'm not against keeping it either!"
Did you know?
Just Fontaine’s match-worn jersey from the 1958 FIFA World Cup Match for Third Place – and in the above picture – is on display at the FIFA Football Museum. The shirt was kindly given by the Fontaine family.