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World’s best feet ready to play Golden Ball

The world’s deadliest finishers will be out prospecting over the coming month in South Africa as they look to land the World Cup golden boot award.

sports Updated: Jun 09, 2010 00:00 IST

The world’s deadliest finishers will be out prospecting over the coming month in South Africa as they look to land the World Cup golden boot award.

Ronaldo, Gerd Muller, Gary Lineker, Paolo Rossi — the roll call of previous winners trips off the tongue and at least a dozen of today’s top strikers will be vying for the honours at this year's finals in South Africa.

Brazilian legend Ronaldo wrote his name into the history books four years ago in Germany when he bagged his 15th World Cup goal, beating the record of Germany's Muller set in 1970.

Ronaldo top-scored in 2002 on the way to lifting the trophy as he brilliantly left behind memories of the 1998 final loss to France, in which he was largely anonymous after suffering an apparent seizure before kickoff. The former Inter Milan, Barcelona and Real Madrid star was the fifth Brazilian to top the goal charts at a finals — Vava and Garrincha shared the award in 1962 with four other players.

Four years ago, it was German sharpshooter Miroslav Klose, who bagged seven goals in qualifying for this year's event, who won the accolade on home soil even though his country only reached the semi-finals.

Klose will be looking to become the only man to win the golden boot for a second time as the Germans — always there or thereabouts — hunt down a fourth World Cup win.

But he has competition aplenty, not least in the shape of England’s Wayne Rooney, who has averaged just under a goal every other game in winning 60 caps to date.

Injury cut short his breakthrough international tournament at Euro 2004 and he was not fully fit going into the 2006 World Cup but if any of Fabio Capello's men can emulate 1986 golden boot winner Gary Lineker it's the Manchester United forward.

In normal circumstances, the odds would be fairly short on his former United teammate Cristiano Ronaldo, who netted 42 goals in all competitions while still at Old Trafford in 2008 and top-scored (in all competitions) for Real Madrid in his maiden season in Spain.

Nonetheless, a quirk of Portugal's laborious path to the finals was the 25-year-old's failure to the hit the target at all.

For Argentina, take your pick from Lionel Messi, Carlos Tevez and Gonzalo Higuain — who outscored Ronaldo in the league.

Anyone looking for a two-way bet on the top scorer might like to try Spain, with both Fernando Torres and sidekick David Villa as cute as they come when it comes to finding the net.

Torres needs no introduction as the man whose goal won Euro 2008 for the Spaniards while Villa is now Spain's second all-time top-scorer and his 21 goals for Valencia earned him a move to Barcelona.