Think about this: when the first edition of The Guinness Book of Records was published in 1955, the number of FIFA World Cups won by Brazil was a round, robust zero.
That’s how much can change in 60 years, both for the global authority on record breaking – now known simply as Guinness World Records – and the football world’s preeminent national team: the very first World Cup staged after that 1955 publishing was won by Brazil in 1958. Since, the Seleção have gone on to win five total, the most of any nation.
So, yes, a lot can change over the course of 60 years. But some records – some stand the test of time to the point of appearing unbreakable.
And on that note, in today's "60 at 60" feature, we take a look at an iconic record from 1958, and remain at that same World Cup in Sweden. Allow us to introduce you to Just Fontaine.
Looking back at the 1958 World Cup, a lot more has changed compared to what we saw at Brazil 2014.
They held playoffs to find out who escaped the group stages?
The countries were seeded in pots based on geography?
The man who scored the most goals ever in a single World Cup tournament didn’t even make the team of the tournament as selected by journalists?!
Amazingly, that’s the case with Fontaine, the French striker to whom we dedicate this record retrospective. His singular 1958 performance remains one of the most legendary sporting achievements of all time.
Fontaine scored 13 goals in Sweden that summer, across the six matches that France played. It remains the high-water mark for the most goals scored in a single World Cup tournament.
Amazingly, it was the only World Cup in which Fontaine would ever play. And, despite nearly 60 years having passed, his tally of 13 in one tournament still has him sitting fourth all-time on the career goals list.
Here's Fontaine pictured, in 1978, posing with his Golden Boot from Sweden.
To put it in perspective, career World Cup goals-scored holder Miroslav Klose needed 24 matches across five tournaments to earn his 16 goals. The Brazilian Ronaldo required 19 matches across three World Cups to earn his 15. And third-place Gerd Mueller spread his 14 goals across 13 matches.
Again, Fontaine needed only six.
That’s a ballistic 2.17 goals per game average, the second-highest of any player to have ever scored 10 or more goals in a World Cup career (Hungary’s Sandor Kocsis hit 2.2/game with 11 goals in five matches in 1954).
Fontaine netted a hat trick in France’s opening match that summer, then proceeded to score in every game for Les Bleus thereafter. And he didn’t simply load up in one or two matches. He scored multiple times in four of the six contests, including a four-goal virtuosity against defending champs West Germany in the third-place game.
He remains one of only four players to ever score multiple hat tricks in a World Cup career.
Sadly, Fontaine’s career was cut short at just 28 years old due to chronic injury. But he showed across a mere three weeks in the Swedish summer of ’58 the kind of historic touch he held in those boots.
And yet, to revisit the point, Fontaine interestingly still couldn’t even crack the media’s all-tournament team. This was despite earning more votes than any other forward. The reason? The votes for Fontaine were split between the “inside forward” and “outside forward” position, meaning he didn’t have enough at one position to make the squad.
While he may not have received his proper recognition from the media of the time, Fontaine’s record has only appreciated in its impressiveness, and 60 years on, it appears nobody may challenge one of the sport’s most long-standing achievements.