The 2018 World Cup in Russia is nearly here. In the build-up to the most eagerly anticipated tournament in football, we're looking at a whole host of incredible records, players and moments.

This time we're celebrating the achievements of a whole host of footballers who have broken records over the years while representing their country at the FIFA World Cup.

Most of the greatest footballers to have ever played the game have starred at the FIFA World Cup.

Arguments rage all the time about the greatest team to grace the tournament, while there are always battles over an ultimate World Cup XI.

But what about a team made up of record holders? And by that, we mean footballers who have World Cup records?

No players with Premier League or Instagram records here, oh no. We’re talking FIFA World Cup records. And don’t think we’ve just selected 11 strikers, we’ve got a formation.

Goalkeeper: Tim Howard

When the USA were knocked out of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil by Belgium, nobody could point the finger at their goalie.

Tim Howard broke the record for the Most saves in a FIFA World Cup match, with 16.

If it wasn’t for the former Manchester United and Everton shot stopper, USA’s 2-1 defeat could have been much heavier.

Right back: Cafu

If you want experience on the biggest stage then you can’t beat Brazil’s legendary right back.

Cafu holds the record for the Most appearances in a FIFA World Cup Final match with three: 1994 (USA), 1998 (France) and 2002 (Japan/South Korea), winning two of them.

Centre back: Franz Beckenbauer

One of the greatest. And to help prove the point, Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer is the First to win the FIFA World Cup as captain and coach.

After captaining hosts West Germany (as it was then) to victory at the 1974 tournament with a 1-0 win over the Netherlands, he then coached the national team to victory in Italia 90 thanks to another 1-0 victory, this time over Argentina.

Centre back: Laurent Blanc

France’s journey to glory during the 1998 tournament was thanks in no small part to Laurent Blanc.

The host’s second round tie against Paraguay finished 0-0 after 90 minutes, so into extra time it went.

However, just before the end of the first period of extra time, up popped Blanc to score the First FIFA World Cup golden goal and send France through to the quarter finals where they played, and beat, Italy 4-3 on penalties.

Left back: Paolo Maldini

Nobody has spent as much time on a World Cup pitch as Paolo Maldini.

Whilst his club career with AC Milan is the stuff of legend, the Italian defender also has the Most minutes played in the FIFA World Cup to his name.

Starring for Italy in five tournaments from Italia 90 through to Japan/South Korea in 2002, Maldini played a total of 2,217 minutes for his country during those World Cups – that’s nearly 37 hours.

But agonisingly he never won the tournament; Italy finished runners up in USA 94, third in Italia 90 but in 2006, the first World Cup after Maldini retired from international football, finally prevailed to take the trophy home.

Midfield: Andres Iniesta

Spain’s first World Cup success in 2010 was thanks for their midfield magician, Barcelona’s Andres Iniesta, who popped up with the winning goal.

His 116th minute strike in the final against the Netherlands was the Latest game-winning goal in a FIFA World Cup Final.

Midfield: Michael Laudrup

When Michael Laudrup scored for Denmark in a 6-1 win over Uruguay at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, he probably didn't think he'd have to wait as long as he did for his next World Cup goal.

However, it wasn't until France 98, when he netted a penalty against the hosts and eventual winners in a 2-1 defeat, that he got that feeling of scoring for his country at the World Cup.

This gap, of 12 years 16 days, means the Danish midfielder has the record for the Longest time between FIFA World Cup goals by a player.

This was Laudrup's only goal in the tournament but he, along with brother Brian, still made FIFA's 16-man All-Star Team, made up of the 16 most impressive players from the tournament. He announced his retirement from international football after Denmark were knocked out in the quarter-finals by Brazil.

Midfield: Dejan Stankovic

Playing in the World Cup is a dream for many footballers and kids who aspire to emulate their heroes.

However, playing in the World Cup for two nations is something else - Robert Prosinecki not only played but scored for Yugoslavia in 1990 and Croatia in 1998 giving him the record for the Most countries scored for in the FIFA World Cup.

But even that is beaten by Inter Milan stalwart, Dejan Stankovic, who is the record holder for the Most teams represented in the FIFA World Cup having played for THREE countries.

The midfielder played for Yugoslavia in 1998, Serbia and Montenegro in 2006 and Serbia in 2010.

FIFA rules traditionally prohibit players from switching nationalities at senior level; however, Stankovic has represented different countries as the Balkans region has changed politically with more countries becoming independent.

Forward: Miroslav Klose

Germany’s 7-1 mauling of Brazil in the 2014 semi-final has already gone down as one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history.

But not only did the 2014 hosts suffer an unprecedented thrashing, German striker Miroslav Klose took away a record which belonged to one of Brazilian football’s favourite sons.

Since 2006 Ronaldo (the original, not Cristiano Ronaldo), held the record for Most FIFA World Cup finals goals by a player with 15. However when Klose made it 2-0 in that incredible 7-1 win in the Estadio Mineirao stadium, Belo Horizonte he had gone one better.

Klose’s 16 goals came across four tournaments, scoring five goals in 2002, five when Germany hosted the 2006 tournament, four in South Africa 2010 and two in his fourth and final tournament.

Meanwhile Ronaldo’s 15 came in just three World Cups: four in France 98, an incredible eight four years later and three in 2006.

Forward: Pele

Where would a World Cup XI be without Pele?

Brazil’s legendary striker has a plethora of records to his name, including the Youngest player to appear in a FIFA World Cup Final and Youngest winner of the FIFA World Cup (17 years 249 days), Youngest goalscorer in a FIFA World Cup (17 years 239 days) and Most wins of the FIFA World Cup by a player (three).

Pele burst onto the scene at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden where his two goals in the final helped Brazil to a 5-2 win over the hosts.

Despite missing the 1962 final through injury (he still received a winner’s medal), he returned for the 1970 final in Mexico City, scoring the opener and making the final pass to set up Carlos Alberto’s legendary strike in Brazil’s 4-0 demolition of Italy.

Forward: Hakan Sukur

While football fans have had to wait until extra time for a goal in the two most recent finals, Turkey had no such problems in 2002.

OK, they weren’t in the final, but Hakan Sukur managed to find the net against Korea Republic (South Korea) after just 11 seconds to grab the Fastest goal in a FIFA World Cup match.

This was Sukur’s only goal of the tournament, but it came in the third place play-off against the joint hosts with both sides being knocked out in the semi-finals. Turkey went on to win 3-2.

Manager: Bora Milutinovic/Carlos Alberto Parreira

Yes we’re going for joint managers of this team, and this is why.

Both Bora Milutinovic and Carlos Alberto Parreira hold the record for Most national teams led to the football (soccer) FIFA World Cup finals by the same coach, having each taken five national teams to the tournament. Serbian Bora Milutinovic achieved the record first by leading Mexico (1986), Costa Rica (1990), USA (1994), Nigeria (1998) and China (2002) during the finals.

However this has now been equalled by Brazil’s Carlos Alberto Parreira, who has coached Kuwait (1982), United Arab Emirates (1990), Brazil (1994 & 2006), Saudi Arabia (1998) and South Africa (2010).

Now that’s World Cup experience.


Honourable mentions go to:

  • German goalkeeper, Harold Schumacher (Most penalty shoot-out saves in the FIFA World Cup – 4) 
  • Ronaldo, Brazil (previous record holder for Most FIFA World Cup finals goals by a player - 15)
  • Sead Kolisinac from Bosnia and Herzegovina (Fastest own goal in a FIFA World Cup match – 2 minutes 8 seconds) 
  • Cameroon’s Roger Milla (Oldest goalscorer in a football (soccer) FIFA World Cup and Oldest outfield player in a FIFA World Cup - both 42 years 39 days)
  • German midfielder Mario Goetze (First winning goal scored by a substitute in a FIFA World Cup Final - Germany v Argentina at Brazil 2014)
  • Goalkeepers Peter Shilton (England) and Fabian Barthez (France) (Most FIFA World Cup clean sheets - both 10)
  • France striker, Just Fontaine (Most goals in a single football (soccer) FIFA World Cup - 13)