Quite simply, Gerd Muller was the greatest ever pure striker the world had ever seen. His technical skills were not sublime, and he was neither fast nor physically imposing, but the phenomenal German had the remarkable talent of being in the right place at the right time to put balls into nets. Nobody was capable of doing that like him.
His scoring record is astonishing. Muller netted 365 times in 427 Bundesliga matches for Bayern Munich, winning the title four times. He scored 40 goals in a single season in 1971/72. He then hit 67 goals in 49 games in all competitions in 1972/73. He scored in two of the three European Cup finals the Bavarians won between 1974 and 1976.
He found the net 68 times in 62 appearances for the national team – one of the very few strikers to average more than a goal per game on the international stage. Miroslav Klose might have overtaken him as the most prolific striker for Germany, but he needed 137 games to score 71 goals, and some were netted against clearly inferior opposition. That puts Muller's achievements into the right perspective.
World Cup Golden Boot
Muller was the top scorer at the 1970 World Cup with 10 goals in six matches. At Euro 72, he scored twice in the semi-finals against Belgium and twice more in the final against the Soviet Union as West Germany triumphed. Then he got the precious winner in the 1974 World Cup Final.
In short, he was unstoppable. Muller rarely scored brilliant goals and even looked a bit clumsy at times, but that didn't matter. His ability to react faster than anyone else around him, and to leap higher despite being under 5ft 10in tall, was breathtaking. Fans and team-mates alike adored his unique skills, which led to his nickname Der Bomber. There will never be another one like him.
Holland clearly deserved to lift the World Cup in 1974, but Muller was the man who scored the only goal from open play in the final to win it for West Germany. His shot was weak, but sneakily impossible to stop. He had outfoxed Johan Cruyff’s side when it mattered most.
100 to 91 • 90 to 81 • 80 to 71 • 70 to 61 • 60 to 51 • 50 to 41 • 40 to 31 • 30 to 21
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