Qatar 2022 countdown: Just Fontaine, the French striker who set 1958 FIFA World Cup alight – SportsMediaz

Just Fontaine, who was born on August 18, 1933, in Marrakesh (Morocco), holds the record as the top goal-scorer at a single World Cup. 

Included at the last minute by coach Paul Nicolas in France’s World Cup side for the 1958 finals in Sweden, he scored 13 goals in six games, setting a mark that hasn’t been breached, yet.

What makes the record even more special is the fact that all his goals were scored from open play, as his great friend Raymond Kopa held on to the penalty duties. 

In the very first game against Paraguay, Fontaine scored a hat-trick. This was followed by two goals in the match against Yugoslavia and two against Northern Ireland. 

In the matches against Scotland and Brazil, he had to make do with a mere one goal per match. 

Then he surpassed all his previous exploits with an extraordinary performance in the third-place play-off by beating German goalkeeper Kwiatkowski no fewer than four times. France finally won 6-3 against the former title holder to secure third place. 

Fontaine’s career had begun in Morocco with A.S. Marrakesh and U.S. Casablanca, where he was the North African top marksman. Then he signed on with Nice where he secured Cup victory in 1954 and the championship title in 1956. 

He was then discovered by Albert Batteux for the top team Stade Reims, with whom he won the league title twice. In the 26 matches which Fontaine played that season, he scored 34 times. The following year in the European Cup he chalked up 10 goals. 

With Stade Reims, he lost the final against Real Madrid with whom his friend Kopa had in the meantime signed on. 

In 1958 he came third in the Best European Player of the Year, behind Kopa and the German, Helmut Rahn. His uncanny scoring instinct, and his ability to predict a promising situation, allied with his remarkable intuition for the game in general, made him a force to be reckoned with. His amazing finishing power was enhanced by his ability to remain cool, calm and collected in the heat of the moment. 

He maintains that the teamwork of colleagues of the calibre of Wiesnieski, Kopa, Piantoni and Vincent was a contributory factor to his success at the peak of his career. Despite the relative brevity of his career in the national team, Fontaine scored 30 goals in 20 matches. He made his debut on October 7, 1956, in a 1-2 defeat to Hungary in Paris, bidding farewell in the very same place on December 11, 1960, with a 3-0 win over Bulgaria. 

Only two months later two leg fractures compelled him to give up the game at the early age of twenty-seven and to turn to coaching. 

In 1967, he led the French national team for a brief period and in 1973 he guided Paris St. Germain back into the first division. 

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