I was nine years old watching my first World Cup, falling in love with the fantastic Dutch team but there he was, in the final, ball behind him, taking a step back and firing it into the corner to win the World Cup. Gerhard Müller may have just lost his record for most goals in a calendar year to Lionel Messi but he is still the greatest finisher I have ever seen.
Gerd Müller scored 68 international goals at a rate of more than one per match, he scored 365 Bundesliga goals, a record which no one has ever come anywhere near. Indeed, he is the only player to have even broken the 300 goal barrier. He also scored a Bundesliga season record of 40 goals in the 1971/1972 season, not to mention breaking Just Fontaine’s World Cup goalscoring record, albeit over two World Cups.
Müller was also top goalscorer in European competition with 66 goals in just 74 matches until he lost that record to Raúl two years ago. The Spaniard had needed more than 100 matches to go past Müller’s total.
I can’t better this description of Müller written by British writer David Winner: “Müller was short, squat, awkward-looking and not notably fast; he never fit the conventional idea of a great footballer, but he had lethal acceleration over short distances, a remarkable aerial game, and uncanny goalscoring instincts. His short legs gave him a strangely low centre of gravity, so he could turn quickly and with perfect balance in spaces and at speeds that would cause other players to fall over.”
Hopefully Messi’s achievement will bring more attention to “das kleine dicke Müller” and his exploits.