To represent your country at the top football tournament in the world is an honor only a few get to share. To score a goal, the odds are even slimmer. But to score two, or even three in a single World Cup is something close to, if not a dream come true for any football player.
This is why winning the the Golden Boot award is so special.
The World Cup Golden Boot is awarded to the player who scores the most in the tournament. In 2018, Harry Kane won the award after scoring six goals.
As the Group Stage of the 2022 World Cup nears its end, these are the five players who are leading the Golden Boot race.
1. Kylian Mbappé: 3 goals
When 19-year-old Kylian Mbappé scored his first World Cup goal, he became the youngest French goalscorer in the tournament’s history. He went on to score three more goals throughout the 2018 tournament, his performance granting him the FIFA World Cup Best Young Player Award.
Four years later, and he is at it again, just one goal away from his previous World Cup record.
In France’s opening match of the tournament, he showed off his pace with a goal against Australia. For their second match, he secured his team’s place into the Round of 16, scoring both goals to win 2-1 over Denmark.
With his lightning speed and finishing precision, it’s unlikely that Kylian Mbappé will stop here.
2. Marcus Rashford: 3 goals
Marcus Rashford’s debut World Cup goal was one to remember. Coming off the bench, the Manchester United player scored England’s fifth goal of the match within 49 seconds on the pitch. It took him three touches.
Following this, he made the starting lineup against Wales. In the match, he opened England’s scoring with a free-kick in the second half. Later on, he sealed the win for the Three Lions with their third goal of the game.
Although earlier in the year, Rashford’s place on England’s squad seemed unsettled, he has definitely proven himself in more ways than one already.
3. Álvaro Morata: 3 goals
Álvaro Morata has always been a hot and cold character. The Spanish man has excellent technical ability, movement, and aerial prowess, but when it comes to finishing off chances, he sometimes leaves you wanting. But this time around, it looks like Luis Enriquez’s gamble on giving the 30-year-old his first World Cup berth is paying off.
The Atlético Madrid player came on as a sub for Spain in their opening match against Costa Rica, And from the bench, he scored the team’s seventh goal of the game. Against Germany, he came off the bench again to score Spain’s lone goal.
And again, starting in their match against Japan last night, he scored Spain’s only goal of the match. He one of the only players currently who have scored in all of a team’s matches in the Group Stage. With La Roja moving onto the Knockout Round, we may see even more.
4. Cody Gakpo: 3 goals
Cody Gakpo is shining brightly in his World Cup debut. Like Morata, he has scored in all three of Netherlands’ Group Stage matches.
He scored the Dutchmen’s first goal of the tournament in their win against Senegal. He made the team’s only goal in their draw against Ecuador. And facing Qatar, Gakpo again opened the scoring of the 2-0 match.
Notably, Gakpo has proven his skill as a player; he scored all his goals differently. One with his right foot, one from his left, and a header. And not only is his finishing so precise, but so are his passes. And on top of this, he has no problem progressing on an attack all on his own.
He’s on a hot streak. Can the streak continue into the Round of 16?
5. Enner Valencia: 3 goals
Although Ecuador have been eliminated from the World Cup, Enner Valencia made the most out of his performance in the Group Stage scoring three goals.
In the opening match of the tournament, he led his team with two goals to win 2-0 over tournament host, Qatar. To avoid a loss in their second match against the Netherlands, it was Valencia again who scored the tying goal to end the match 1-1.
As his team have been eliminated, however, his record for this World Cup will remain at three. But currently, he sticks with the top scorers in the entire tournament.
With the Round of 16 right around the corner, which player do you think will rightfully earn the honor of winning the Golden Boot?
Banner image from England on Twitter.