Legendary Germany and Bayern Munich striker Gerd Muller has died at the age of 75.
Muller won the 1972 European Championship, the 1974 World Cup, a Club World Cup, three European Cups, a European Cup-Winners’ Cup, four Bundesliga titles and four German Cups.
His total of 365 Bundesliga goals remains a German record, while his single-season high of 40 was only beaten by Robert Lewandowski last term.
Muller scored 14 goals at two World Cups and, in 1972, hit 85 goals in only 60 matches for club and country. That remained a world record until Lionel Messi struck 91 times in 69 matches in 2012.
“Records don’t mean much to me, but if someone deserves to surpass me then it’s Messi,” Muller said at the time.
The forward, nicknamed Der Bomber der Nation — the bomber of the nation — scored 68 goals in 62 games for Germany, making him their all-time top scorer until Miroslav Klose surpassed his total in 2014.
His most important goal came in the 1974 World Cup final when he scored the winner in typical style with a quick turn and finish in the 2-1 win over Netherlands, his last game as a West Germany international.
Born in Nordlingen, Bavaria, in November 1945, Muller did not play football at club level until the age of 12 when he joined his hometown side.
He moved to Bayern in July 1964 and played a key role as they were promoted to the Bundesliga the following year, scoring 39 goals in the 1964-65 season.
In his first year in the German top flight, he got 15 goals in 33 games — his worst career return. Muller went on to become the league’s top scorer in seven of the next 14 seasons.
When he left Germany for American club Fort Lauderdale Strikers in early 1979, he had scored 365 goals in 427 games for Bayern.
No other Bundesliga player has come close to that tally, with Bayern’s Lewandowski, the player with the best modern record, on 278 goals in 351 games.
After three years at Fort Lauderdale, Muller retired in 1981. Returning to Germany a few years later, he struggled with post-playing life and slowly descended into alcoholism.
He beat his addiction with the help of his old club Bayern, where he held several minor positions before being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in the early 2010s.
Muller made his last public appearance at an awards ceremony in 2013 and, two years later, Bayern confirmed the reports that he had Alzheimer’s.
In April 2019, Muller was inducted into German football’s Hall of Fame of German football.
Former Bayern and Germany teammate Paul Breitner, who accepted the accolade on Muller’s behalf, said: “The unbelievable success story of Bayern Munich and the German national team would be unthinkable without Gerd Muller.”
President of Bayern Munich Herbert Hainer said “Today is a sad, dark day for FC Bayern and all its fans. Gerd Müller was the greatest striker there’s ever been, and a fine person and character of world football. We’re all united in deep mourning with his wife Uschi as well as his family. FC Bayern wouldn’t be the club we all love today without Gerd Müller. His name and memory will live on forever.”
Bayern CEO Oliver Kahn added “The news of Gerd Müller’s death deeply saddens us all. He’s one of the greatest legends in the history of FC Bayern, his achievements are unrivalled to this day and will forever be a part of the great history of FC Bayern and all of German football. As a player and a person, Gerd Müller stands for FC Bayern and its development into one of the biggest clubs in the world like no other. Gerd will forever be in our hearts.”
May he rest in peace.