Bayern Munich legend Gerd Müller scored 564 goals for the Bavarians and won the World Cup for West GermanyFebruary 11, 2019
GERD Müller was a master poacher.
A German goalscoring machine,who absolutely loved finding the back of the net, and did it for fun.
A stocky, dynamic powerhouse of a striker who could conjure a goal out of nothing, the Bavarian forward was, unquestionably, the most feared and prolific marksmen of his generation.
His goals propelled his club, Bayern Munich, to four Bundesliga titles, the European Cup Winners’ Cup and three European Cup wins on the spin from 1974 to 1976.
It was a similar story on the international stage where his goalscoring ratio was even more impressive and helped West Germany to land both the European Championship in 1972 and the World Cup in 1974.
He was also awarded the Ballon d’Or in 1970.
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But success was not without its consequences…
Let’s start with the goals. All those goals…
We’re not sure there’s every been a goalscorer quite as prolific as Gerd Müller.
Just look at the raw numbers and then think about them.
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For Bayern Munich he scored 564 goals in 605 games in all competitions.
He plundered 67 goals in just 49 games in 1972/73. In 1972 he scored 85 goals in 60 matches in the calendar year.
And he bagged 68 goals in just 62 caps for his country. You don’t really need words, do you?
He actually had two nicknames…
Everyone knows that Müller was nicknamed ‘Der Bomber’ but he was also called ‘Kleines dickes Müller’or ‘Short, fat, Müller’.
Not that any of that was actually true.
In fact, he was of average height and average weight. Bit harsh.
He rewrote the record books…
Take his record for Germany where he scored more than a goal a game for Der Mannschaft.
It was a national record that stood until Miroslav Klose broke it in 2014 but here’s the thing – just look at the comparison.
It took Klose 137 games to score 71 goals. It took Müller just 62 to score 68.
He had a back-up plan if football didn’t work out…
In 1971, he took part in a Q&A for a football magazine.
As well as informing everyone that his favourite singer was Tom Jones and his favourite food was pork, he revealed what he’d be doing if he wasn’t a professional footballer.
“I’d be working in insurance,” he suggested.
His goals carried West Germany to unparalleled heights…
The Golden Boot winner at the 1970 World Cup (he scored 10 goals in six games and his winner knocked out England in the quarter-finals), Müller’s prowess in front of goal was just as lethal for his country as it was for his club.
He almost single-handedly won the European Championship for Der Mannschaft in 1972.
He scored four times in West Germany’s two games, and went on to score a frankly bewildering 18 goals in just 12 matches for his country that year, including scoring eight goals in a row for the team.
There were four goals in 16 minutes against the USSR and another four against the Swiss and he even made Bobby Moore look second-rate in a game at Wembley.
And, of course, he bagged the all-important winner in the 1974 World Cup Final as West Germany beat Holland.
His American dream turned into a nightmare…
When he moved across the pond to join Fort Lauderdale Strikers in 1979, though he continued scoring goals – he netted 38 goals in 71 games – his life off the pitch was spiralling out of control.
A failed restaurant venture not only left him heavily in debt but also took its toll on his marriage and he briefly split from his wife, Ursula.
With his assets taken by the taxman, Müller returned home to Germany, with nothing and nobody to fall back on.
And he struggled when he retired…
After his spell in America, Müller retired from football in 1982 but if he thought his achievements would lead to an easy life, he was wrong.
Beset by depression, Müller turned to drinking, a problem that was only addressed with the help of one of his former teammates.
Bowing to the advice of German legend Uli Hoeness, Müller entered a clinic for alcohol dependency in 1991 and even slipped into a coma as the battle against his demons got the better of him. “I ruined my life,” he later admitted.
But Müller survived and never forgot the role his colleagues played in saving his life. “Uli Hoeness is No 1,” he said later.
He remains the greatest ever goalscorer at Bayern Munich…
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In October 2015, a month before Müller’s 70th birthday, Bayern Munich released a statement announcing that their legendary striker was receiving treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
In the statement, Bayern’s chairman, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge spoke of the impact Müller had had for his club and his country.
“Gerd Müller is one of the all-time greats of world football,” he said.
“Without his goals, Bayern Munich and German football would not be what it is today.” You can’t argue with that.