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From Pele to Miroslav Klose, here are five players who dominated World Cups and stood out from the rest.

Pele (Brazil)

Edson Arantes do Nascimento, popularly known as Pele, is among the most decorated players in the history of football. He made his football debut for Santos FC in 1956 when he was 15 against Corinthians.

The ‘Black Pearl’, since making the debut for his national side Brazil in 1957, has featured in four FIFA World Cups, winning three of them. In the 14 matches that he played for Brazil at the World Cup, Pele netted 12 goals, which puts him fifth in the list of top goalscorers in the quadrennial tournament’s history.

Sixteen-year old Pele caught the eye of everyone right from his maiden World Cup run (1958), where he scored a hat-trick in the semifinal before netting a brace in the final to help Brazil lift the World Cup. By the end of his career, Pelé had won three FIFA World Cups with the Selecao, the most by any player.

Diego Maradona (Argentina)

Famous for his World Cup exploits and the ‘hand of god’ incident, Diego Maradona is almost synonymous with football. In his time with the Argentine national team, Maradona participated in the 1982, 1986, 1990, and 1994 World Cups and eventually went on to score eight goals while providing seven assists.

Maradona had his fair share of misadventures but the goal against England in the 1986 WC quarterfinal was the most controversial of all and gave birth to the ‘hand of god’ phenomenon. Maradona went on to score two goals against England, including one with his hand, which the referee thought was a headed goal and Argentina won the match 2-1 and eventually the World Cup that year.

Paolo Rossi (Italy)

Former Juventus and Milan player Paolo Rossi is regarded as one of the best forwards of all time. The Italian was fondly known for his heroics in his national side’s title winning run in 1982 in which he scored six goals, clinching the golden boot,but his journey there was nothing short of a fairytale.

In 1980, the striker was banned from football for his involvement in betting but his sentence was cut short to two seasons before Juventus signed him in 1982 and he was eventually drafted in Italy’s ‘82 WC squad.

Roberto Baggio (Italy)

Although he is one of the most prominent goalscorers for Italy, Baggio’s name will often be associated with the 1994 World Cup final where he missed the decisive penalty in the shootouts against Brazil. He scored 27 goals in 56 appearances for Italy from 1988 to 2004 and is also the only Italian to score in three different World Cups. Baggio played his final international match in April 2004 in a friendly match against Spain.

Miroslav Klose (Germany)

Having participated in four FIFA World Cup editions, Miroslav Klose can safely be called a World Cup juggernaut. Nicknamed ‘ Salto(somersault)-Klose’, he has played 24 World Cup matches and is second on the list of players with most WC appearances, just behind Germany’s Lothar Matthaus.

Klose has scored 71 goals in 137 games and is Germany’s all-time leading scorer.

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