Just Fontaine, FIFA World Cup finals record goal-scorer, dies at 89
Just Fontaine, the all-time top scorer in a single World Cup final with 13 goals, has died aged 89, his family told AFP on Wednesday. Will always be remembered for scoring 13 goals in the 1958 World Cup, a remarkable feat that looks unlikely to ever be matched. To date, only three players have scored more World Cup goals than Fontaine, even though the Reims player only appeared in one tournament and played only six matches. Lionel Messi recently matched his tally of Argentine glory in Qatar, but it took him five World Cups to get there.
That 1958 World Cup in Sweden is best remembered as the coming of age of 17-year-old Pelé, who inspired Brazil to victory after scoring a hat-trick in their 5–2 semi-final victory over France.
However, it was a personal victory for Fontaine, whose four-goal haul in the third-place play-off win over West Germany ensured that he scored in every game.
Part of an amazing attacking trident with Roger Piantoni and Raymond Kopa, Fontaine might never have made it to Sweden.
It was only due to injuries to Thady Sisowski and his Reims teammate René Bliard that he was seen in the team and then in the starting line-up.
“It was at the airport before I left for Sweden that Paul Nicolas (part of the national team staff) and Albert Bateux (the coach of France), who really didn’t want me, told me that I would start as a centre-forward. Will play,” Fontaine told AFP in 2013.
Only Germany’s Miroslav Klose (16), Brazil’s Ronaldo (15) and 1970s West German hero Gerd Müller, who scored 14 times, have scored more goals in World Cup finals.
Only two other players – Müller with 10 in 1970 and Hungary’s Sándor Kocsis with 11 in 1954 – have reached double figures in the same World Cup.
Kopa is nevertheless remembered as the greatest French star of the era. When he died in 2017, Fontaine fondly remembered his “big brother”. “Raymond had character,” he said. “So did I, and it made us a magical couple.”
Born in Marrakech in August 1933 to a French father and Spanish mother at the time of the French Protectorate in Morocco, Fontaine went to school in Casablanca, and began his football career there.
– Career cut short by injury –
In 1953 the stocky penalty-box poacher moved to France, joining Nice.
His three years there were spent combining football with military service, but Fontaine nevertheless won the French Cup in his first season and a league title in 1956.
He then moved to Reims, the great French side of the 1950s who had previously been beaten by Real Madrid in the European Cup final and that summer lost the Copa to the Spanish giants.
Fontaine won three league titles with Reims and another French Cup, and appeared in the 1959 European Cup final, when they again lost to Madrid, this time losing 2–0 in Stuttgart.
He scored 10 goals in that European campaign, but 1958 was his greatest glory – in his second season with Reims, he won a league and cup double and he was the league’s top scorer with 34 goals.
However, his career came to an end in 1962 at the age of just 28. He barely played for two years after suffering a double leg fracture. In total he won 21 caps for France, scoring 30 goals.
“We talk a lot about my record but I would definitely have changed it for five or six years, because football was my passion,” he said.
“I was at the top, and I was making a lot of money at the time. It wasn’t the money you see nowadays, it was five times the minimum wage, whereas it would be a hundred times more now.”
Fontaine moved into coaching and took charge of France in 1967. However, he lasted only two games, both of which were friendly matches.
A spell with Paris Saint-Germain was more successful, as “Justo” took the side from the capital to the top flight in 1974.
His footballing career in Morocco ended where it began, as he led the national team to third place in the 1980 Africa Cup of Nations. He then retired to Toulouse in the south-west of France.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and was auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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