Argentina face France in the World Cup final on Sunday, with Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe inspiring their respective nations throughout last month in Qatar.
So will the competition be remembered as the ‘Messi World Cup’, with the Argentine finally lifting the trophy that eluded him, or will Mbappe guide France to successive triumphs, after four years in Russia?
BBC Sport have looked at six other players who have been instrumental in their country’s successes in previous years.
Pelé, Brazil – 1958
Pele was just 17 when Brazil traveled to the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, looking to win the tournament for the first time. Left out of his country’s first two games, the striker then impressed in a 2-0 win against the Soviet Union and scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over Wales in the quarter-finals .
From then on, Pelé was unstoppable. He scored a hat-trick in a 5-2 semi-final win over France and two more goals in the 5-2 win over Sweden in the final – including a brilliant effort when he kicked the ball over a defender who had attempted to slam. him with a knee-high challenge, then flew into the net.
It was to be the first of three World Cup titles for Pele, although he only featured in the first two matches of 1962, before injury ruled him out. In 1970, however, he was at his best, scoring four times – including Brazil’s first goal in the thrilling 4-1 final win over Italy.
Mario Kempes, Argentina – 1978
Argentina have won the World Cup twice, and each time a player played a major role in their triumph. In 1978, at home, it was Mario Kempes.
The Valencia striker had entered the tournament having been La Liga’s top scorer in two consecutive seasons and was the only player in the Argentine team not to play his football in the country.
Kempes failed to score in the first group stage, but in the second stage he shone with both goals in a 2-0 win over Poland, and the first and third in the second. a 6-0 victory over Peru.
It took Argentina to the final and Kempes scored twice more, in a 3-1 win over the Netherlands in Buenos Aires, as he not only helped his country to their maiden success, but also finished as the tournament’s top scorer and best player. .
Paolo Rossi, Italy – 1982
Coming into the 1982 World Cup in Spain, Italian striker Paolo Rossi had just returned to action after a two-year ban for his part in a Serie A match-fixing scandal, with national manager Enzo Bearzot criticized in the Italian media for selecting him.
But after a poor start, the striker shone against Brazil by scoring a brilliant hat-trick in a game Italy needed to win to reach the semi-finals. He followed that up with both goals in the 2-0 semi-final win over Poland, and netted Italy’s first goal in the 3-1 final win over West Germany .
Rossi’s six goals earned him the Golden Boot for Top Scorer and the Golden Ball for Player of the Tournament.
Diego Maradona, Argentina – 1986
Captain Diego Maradona set an example in 1986 when he helped Argentina win their second World Cup in Mexico. A first goal came against Italy in a 1-1 draw to help Argentina win the group.
In the quarter-finals, he scored twice to eliminate England 2-1. The first was the infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal – when Maradona kicked the ball past Peter Shilton – but the second is considered one of the best World Cup goals of all time, as it picked up the ball in his own half, before producing an incredible weaving run through the England defense and beating Shilton.
He followed that up with two more stunning goals in the 2-0 semi-final win over Belgium, then was instrumental in the dramatic 3-2 final win over West Germany.
With five goals and five assists to his name, Maradona was a dazzling Ballon d’Or winner to be the competition’s best player.
Zinedine Zidane, France – 1998
Skillful midfielder Zinedine Zidane was the poster child for the 1998 World Cup in France, which they hosted.
He got off to a great start with an assist for his country’s first goal of the tournament, scored by Christophe Dugarry in a 3-0 win over South Africa.
Zidane was then instrumental in taking the lead against Saudi Arabia but was later sent off in the 4-0 win and missed France’s third group game against Denmark, as well as the nervy 1 win. -0 in overtime against Paraguay in the last 16 games. .
But he returned in style, scoring in the penalty shootout to beat Italy in the quarter-finals and then helping his side to a 2-1 semi-final win over Croatia.
In the final, Zidane scored twice in a 3-0 win over Brazil, and his performances earned him a place in the team of the tournament. Two years later, he was named best player at Euro 2000, which France also won.
Ronaldo, Brazil – 2002
That 1998 final was to be Brazilian striker Ronaldo’s greatest moment. However, he suffered a pre-game slump and was not originally named in the line-up – only to start later, but failed to make an impact in a 3-0 loss to France .
A serious knee injury in 1999 threatened to end his career, but what followed was one of football’s biggest comeback stories. In the 2002 tournament in South Korea and Japan, Ronaldo caused a stir by putting his nightmare of four years earlier behind him, with eight goals in seven appearances.
He scored four goals in the three group matches – one in a 2-1 win over Turkey, another in a 4-0 win over China and two in an easy 5-2 win over Costa Rica. Then came one in the 2-0 round of 16 win over Belgium, the only goal in the 1-0 semi-final win over Turkey and both in the 2-0 win over Germany in the final .
Ronaldo finished top scorer and no player has scored more at a World Cup since, although Messi and Mbappe remain in contention to do so this year.