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World Cup records

Young guns and goal gluts

April 2, 2010
By Mark Lomas
(Archive)

The World Cup provides an opportunity for players to write their names into the football history books and create enduring memories on the biggest stage of them all. Some records have stood for more than half a century, while others were achieved as recently as the last finals in Germany.

From goals, to clean sheets, to appearances - the list of World Cup records is a long and varied one. At the 2010 finals, more records are sure to fall - but for now, Soccernet tells the stories of those players who can already claim to hold a place in the World Cup record books.

Youngest player to appear at a World Cup finals: Norman Whiteside - 17 years and 41 days (Northern Ireland v Yugoslavia, 1982)

Norman Whiteside
GettyImages17-year-old Norman Whiteside in action against France at the 1982 World Cup

Discovered by Manchester United's Ulster scout Bob Bishop, who also famously unearthed a certain George Best, Norman Whiteside only made his United debut six games before the end of the 1981-82 season, as a 16-year-old. But Northern Ireland boss Billy Bingham saw enough in the precocious youngster to convince him that he was good enough to make his 1982 World Cup squad, and was so confident of Whiteside's abilities that he handed him an international debut in the World Cup opener against Yugoslavia.

Whiteside adapted seamlessly to the rigours of international football, and started all five of Northern Ireland's matches as they emerged as the surprise package at the finals in Spain. He played with no fear and was an integral part of an impressive campaign, which saw them record a famous 1-0 win over the hosts and advance to the round robin stage - before a draw against Austria and a 4-1 loss to France (in which he set up Gerry Armstrong's consolation) saw them knocked out.

He went on to play three more games for Northern Ireland at the 1986 finals in Mexico, scoring his team's opening goal of the tournament in a 1-1 draw with Algeria before Spain gained a measure of revenge with a 2-1 victory and Brazil hammered Bingham's side 3-0 to confirm their exit at the group stage. Whiteside also holds the record of being the youngest player to score in the English FA Cup final, after netting in Manchester United's 4-0 replay victory over Brighton in 1983, but his career was blighted by injury and he was forced to retire at the age of 26.

Most goals in one World Cup finals: 13 - Just Fontaine, France (Sweden 1958)

When Sandor Kocsis plundered 11 goals in five games for Hungary in the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland - including consecutive hat-tricks against South Korea and West Germany - few would have believed his incredible goalscoring record would be surpassed. Four years later, and there were a lot of people pinching themselves in the football world.

Just Fontaine
GettyImagesJust Fontaine scores France's third goal in a 6-3 victory over West Germany in 1958

Moroccan-born Just Fontaine netted an outstanding 13 goals in six games at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, his total making him the highest scorer in a single World Cup finals and the highest ever scorer, before first Gerd Muller (14) and then Ronaldo (15) snatched that overall record. Fontaine can also claim to be one of two players - along with Uruguayan Alcides Ghiggia in 1950 - to net in every game he ever played in at the finals.

Fontaine's first World Cup match brought a hat-trick in a 7-3 thrashing of Paraguay, before he netted both goals in a 3-2 loss to Yugoslavia and a modest one against Scotland - though it did prove to be the winner. Another brace followed in the 4-0 quarter-final victory over Northern Ireland before Pele stole the show; the precocious Brazilian scored three to Fontaine's one as Les Bleus were sent crashing out with a 5-2 defeat to the samba stars. But Fontaine wasn't finished there and he bagged an impressive four-goal haul in his final World Cup match, a 6-3 victory over defending champions West Germany in the third place play-off.

Fontaine was astoundingly prolific for Les Bleus, netting 30 goals in 21 appearances, but he only played in one World Cup after missing out on selection as a 20-year-old in 1954, despite netting a hat-trick on his France debut that year. A recurring injury forced him to retire early in 1962 but his displays at the 1958 finals ensured his reputation would be forever preserved, and in 2003 he beat off the likes of Zinedine Zidane and Michel Platini to be named the best French player of the last 50 years by the French Football Federation.

Fastest sending off: 56 seconds - Jose Batista, Uruguay v Scotland (Mexico 1986)

Jose Batista, Gordon Strachan
GettyImagesUruguay's Jose Batista brings down Scotland's Gordon Strachan before being sent-off in 1986

Sir Alex Ferguson has experienced many memorable moments during his long managerial career and while Barcelona 1999 and Moscow 2008 are certainly remembered fondly, he may also recall watching Jose Batista receive his marching orders inside a minute at the 1986 World Cup, during his short spell in charge of the Scotland national team.

After losses to Denmark and West Germany, Scotland had to win their final group game against Uruguay to book a place in the second round but their South American opponents were determined to seal their own place and bounce back from a 6-1 mauling at the hands of the Danes in their previous match.

Batista, in particular, was a little too determined to pull Uruguay through. It may have been Gordon Strachan's fiery ginger hair acting as a red rag to the bullish Batista, or the fact that at 5ft 6in Strachan provided an opponent who Batista could feasibly square up to. Either way there was little doubt in the mind of French referee Joel Quiniou that the diminutive defender's over-exuberant through-the-back clattering of the Scot was worthy of a red card.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was that there were only five more bookings in the game, in what was an ugly encounter to offend the football purist. It finished 0-0 and Uruguay had the point they needed to progress, though that didn't stop coach Omar Borras earning himself a touchline ban following post-match comments about the standard of officiating. Both Batista and Borras were absent as the Urugayans were sent packing by eventual champions Argentina in the second round.